Guiuan National High School

Project:           Guiuan National High School (Concept)
Year:               2014
Type:               Educational/ Disaster Relief
Location:       Guiuan, Philippines


Topology of Resilience

On November 9, 2013 the devastating Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, causing more than 5,000 deaths and destroying the homes and cities of millions. Natural disasters due to climate change have become extremely commonplace all over the world. We can’t do much to stop them, but as architects we can help design and build stronger and more resilient buildings to withstand them. As part of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) by OOAc in support of the Typhoon Haiyan victims, the objective of this project is to generate a design concept for a typhoon-resilient school to be implemented in the affected area of the Philippines, where sadly over 4,500 schools have been destroyed by the massive storm. The ultimate goal of this design proposal is not only to raise awareness about the relevance of the cause it serves, but also to present it to respective government officials and organizations such as Architecture for Humanity of the Philippines for its potential implementation. Conceived on an open source platform, the project is also to serve as resource and prototype for Resilient and Sustainable School Design that can be used in other natural disaster-prone areas of the world in the future.

Departing from four key characteristics of the geometry of resilience, Modular Diversity, Internal Grid Web-Network Structure, Scalability and Boundary Unification, our proposal is a one-form structure which applies these elements to create a compact and aerodynamic building that simultaneously serves as school, community center and mass shelter in case of a natural disaster.

Using local building techniques and simple readily accessible materials, the school can be constructed by hand without the aid of heavy machinery or complex building systems. Learning from local vernacular architectural applications and adapting their tectonic details systematically, the design  grows into a larger structure that aims to perform better and prove to be more resilient to increasing threats from natural disasters without losing its human scale and relationship to context and typology. The incorporation of a series of  individual courtyards and open spaces in each cluster within the larger structure provides an intimate feel to its internal spaces. The enclosed structure creates a space that inspires and promotes fluidity and continuity, unity of interaction and the connection within the parts that make up the entire school, its surrounding and its users. It is more than a resilient enclosure. It is a school which creates a sense of space, promoting a more communal way of interaction, a  more holistic approach to the learning environment.

The school is elevated above ground on top of concrete pilotis on a uniform structural grid. This structural grid supports the main deck flooring system constructed out of bamboo, allowing for passive cooling and ventilation of the entire structure while offering protection from rising water due to floods. All structural systems for walls and space frame will be constructed out of bamboo and clad with a light modular skin. The facade features operable louvers which help control sun, wind and rain, and a roof-based rainwater harvesting system.

The intent is to create a resilient overall structure (roof) that is supported by a series of smaller internal structures (classrooms), working together in creating an aerodynamic form that would perform better than having smaller individual units scattered on the site. The total aggregation of simple modules of varying scales, ranging from the desk module, the classroom module, the library module, the office module, the bathroom module, all the way to the seat in the court yard, will yield a more robust system, both in form and scale. We believe the aggregation of simple interconnected systems will create a more resilient architecture and provide a better sense of unity for a learning environment. The form thus responds to climate, context and typology.

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