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SHoP Architects Design Flexible, Resilient Schools for Nepal

As Nepal continues to rebuild from last spring's devastating earthquake, which damaged priceless works of architecture and vital infrastructure across the country, relief agencies and architects are faced with the question of how to build for the next earthquake, and guarantee new structures are sound enough to survive. A new proposal by New York-based SHoP Architects, who recently teamed up with non-profit Kids of Kathmandu and the Asia Friendship Network (AFN) to rebuild 50 schools across the country, suggests one potential solution: focusing on more flexible structures. The planned SHoP schools, designed to be assembled easily from a limited kit of readily available parts, would offer a systematized way to rebuild, and ideally, rebuild quickly. These resilient, earthquake-resistant structures feature solar power generation, water purification, and wireless internet, allowing them to double as community centers and serve as shelters in the event of future emergences or natural disasters.

The concept balances a concern for strong and stable structures with the realities of building on mountainous, often remote, sites, sometimes only accessible by canoe. Designed with resilient concrete slab foundations and steel truss roofs, the SHoP schools are built with education and socialization in mind. The broad overhangs of the angled roof are meant to provide a shaded gathering space, while blank exterior walls are provided as a canvas for local mural artists. Two different building systems—a single-story primary school and two-story secondary school—both include library and kitchen facilities and would feature compressed brick construction, a cost-effective technique that cuts down transportation and material costs, an example of on-site construction some have called "lofab"construction.

With prototypes already tested, the new buildings will be constructed with the help of an array of local partners and organizations. According to SHoP principal Kim Holden, the firm will share the designs online to assist other groups and communities facing similar challenges. "This is really a kit of parts that can serve communities everywhere in times of need."

Examining Nepal's Architectural Legacy After the Earthquake [Curbed]
Indian Students Rebuild Quake-Damaged Nepal School With Locally Sourced Materials [Curbed]
Brick by Brick, Shigeru Ban Shelter Turns Rubble into Housing [Curbed]