US architecture firm BNIM has used local materials, some of which were handmade on site, to build a school in northwest kenya. the project began in 2011 when BNIM principal laura lesniewski and associate principal sam de jong partnered with leaders at jacob’s well, a church in kansas city, missouri, to design a school for the village of asilong. ten new water wells had helped stabilize the community, and the village had identified the need for a secondary school for their primary school graduates.

asilong christian high school

 

 

initial ideas for the asilong christian high school came from the input of primary school faculty and community members who donated the land — all of whom shared critical insight into cultural norms. the architects say that true sustainability quickly became the ultimate driver for each decision, including design integration based on a severe environment, an engaged community, and local economics. the decade-long relationship between the community and BNIM resulted in a project that responds specifically to the village’s vision, culture, and needs. 

asilong christian high school

 

 

the scheme responds to the region’s harsh climate through hospitable environments and durable, local building materials. natural and passive strategies have been integrated to maximize daylight and natural ventilation: the buildings are oriented to capture gentle winds, while covered breezeways and large roof overhangs create outdoor gathering spaces that offer shelter from the hot sun and intense rainfall. during the wet season, precious rainwater is captured for future use.

asilong christian high school

 

 

bricks were handmade on site using an improved traditional masonry method that took into account seismic considerations. other locally sourced materials include the hand-made wicker screens used to filter daylight. furthermore, the realization of the school has resulted in new jobs for the community, in both construction and administration sectors. meanwhile, on site housing has been designed to attract the best teachers in the region.

asilong christian high school

 

 

officially opened in 2017, the school currently has a total of 95 students enrolled and attending, with six teachers and several staff members living, working, and studying on campus. where in the past, 8th-grade graduates had to walk up to 10 miles to the nearest high school, or simply cease their education altogether, they now can attend classes locally.

asilong christian high school

 

 

thus far, six new buildings have been completed on the school campus, which is being built in phases. so far, three classroom buildings (including one science lab), a maintenance building, teacher housing, and latrines have been constructed. the future campus, which will accommodate a total of 320 students, will include administrative offices, a library, more classrooms/labs, dining hall, dormitories, ministry center, and community center.

 

the project received an honor award for excellence in architecture in the 2018 AIA kansas city design excellence awards and a 2019 AIA COTE top ten award.

asilong christian high school

asilong christian high school

asilong christian high school

asilong christian high school

 

 

project info:

 

name: asilong christian high school
location: asilong, west pokot, kenya
size: 8,900 sqf on 20 acres
date of completion: 2019 (six buildings to date)

 

team —
architects: laura lesniewski, AIA LEED AP (BNIM); sam de jong, AIA LEED AP (BNIM)
structural engineer: marc steyer (tipping structural engineers); david mar (mar structural design)
civil engineer: adam roth (KPFF)
general contractor: kennedy matini (watsan construction)