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< prev - next > Construction Building design KnO 100064_School buildings in developing countries (Printable PDF)
School buildings in developing countries
Practical Action
single option by itself would be unlikely to meet all the electricity requirements for a school.
These options would include the use of solar power for computers and radios, the solar
lantern for lighting, paraffin or kerosene lamps for lighting - although increasing risk of fire
and possibly poisoning, and use of biogas for lighting, although again not an especially safe
Except for cases where the school serves a very localised area and children can go home for
meals, it is likely that a meal would need to be provided at some time during the school day.
In small schools, this could be done simply under some form of gazebo structure where the
cooking would be done. The open sides of this structure would allow the smoke from cooking
to escape. If cooking is carried out indoors it would be important to ensure that an adequate
flue is installed and maintained to allow smoke to be removed. Larger schools and colleges
would need a dedicated institutional kitchen to be included in the school design. Another
Technical Brief from Practical Action provides further details on stoves for institutional and
commercial kitchens.
In high mountain areas or in developing regions in the far North or South, space heating
would be a necessity for all or part of the year. For this purpose various types of stoves to
burn oil or wood / biomass are available on the market. However, in cold climates the
availability of wood or other biomass for fuel could be very limited. Larger buildings would
need a dedicated oil, coal, wood or biomass or waste briquette fired boiler and a hot water
distribution system to heat radiators.
Building Materials - A wide range of building material options can be used for low cost school
construction. The main factor in the choice would depend on what is locally available or
produced in the area and the relative cost of the materials available locally. Cost and
availability of materials varies from place to place, so what is cheap and available in one area
might not be so in another. Climate is another important factor determining material choice
and building design. Whereas, for example, the use of earthen-based flat roofs as well as
earth-based arches, vaults and domes would be completely suitable for relatively dry climates,
these constructions would be less suitable in wetter climates unless they are built and
finished by highly skilled labour. It also needs to be noted that in areas with night frosts, or
with very high daytime temperatures, a more massive type of construction would be better for
reducing the effect of temperature change as a more heavy building heats up and cools down
slower than a light one. This would imply the use of more massive materials such as rammed
earth, stabilised earth blocks, or ashlar stone or rubble for walls and clay or concrete tiles or
thatch for roofs, rather than lightweight walling materials such as ferrocement or timber
panels, or galvanised corrugated iron sheets for roofs.
Although researchers and designers have sometimes devised innovative designs and use of
materials for building, generally to reduce costs, make more use of waste materials, or to
make more efficient use of space, there would also be greater risks with aiming to use
particularly innovative or experimental materials and techniques. It would generally usually
be better to choose materials which have already been well proven, and particularly if they are
also well known about and used in the local area. Some relatively common materials used for
construction are described briefly below, though they would not all be suitable for use in
every case.