Localization: Etiopia
Year: 2016
Project Team: Francesco Colarossi (Team manager), Luisa Saracino, Matteo Baldissara, Paolo Colarossi, Marta Bizzoni, Aurora di Manno

KYMFIELD International Competition: schools for tropical savanna climate of Africa


The selected area is the territory of Savannah in Ethiopia. Average temperatures are between 25 and 35 °C. There are two seasons, one dry, winter (October to March) and one rainy, summer (April to September). Predominant winds in winter blow from NE to SW and are cold and dry. In summer the winds are coming from both SW and SE and are hot and humid.

Plant life:

Bamboo is particularly common in this area: forests of this species cover about one million hectares in Ethiopia. The large amount available and the sustainability of  the crop cycle, make it a resource that can be employed as a building material.

Traditional ethiopian architecture:

Generally building are made with raw earth bricks and covered with wood and straw. There are two main building system: one with a circular plan and conical roof, that is typical in the center of Africa, and one with square plan and pitched roof, that is more typical in Ethiopia. The spatial organization of traditional Ethiopian settlement systems, is characterized by a central common space generally inhabited by a tree.

project overview

The project is developed according to two guidelines: one is the aspect of climate, and particularly the direction and intensity of predominant winds; the other aspect is the spatial organization of traditional Ethiopian settlement systems. Both of these aspects have characterized the architectural system. The project, composite of two main systems, is designed as an aggregate of volumes built around a central space as a reminder of the importance given by the locals in the spatial organization.

The first system is composed of a large base and a primary roof. This system articulates an outdoor space that is partially covered. The primary roof has been shaped to canalize predominant winds. This roof is also the element that develop the central space through the impluvium. The impluvium is projected on the base and then, in the space that is created, there is a “tech tree”: it is a set of technologies that allow to improve energy performance through active and passive systems. The second system is composed of four volumes built around the “tech tree”: here are placed the functional spaces: three buildings are classrooms and one is teachers’ housing and service areas of the school (bathrooms and storage). Each unit is formed by an enclosure, open on the central space, and a block-building.

Enclosure, organically shaped, is designed to create a sparial tension with the rectangular form of the building and to create a private outdoor area for each classroom.