ITHACA, N.Y. – Aiming to create a vital and vibrant structure for a growing community, Cornell University Sustainable Design, a student-led organization, will design and build a schoolhouse in Cosmo City, South Africa, this summer. To that end, the students have published a book – “Schoolhouse South Africa: Comprehensive Context” – describing their research and design approach.
Cornell University Sustainable Design – formerly Cornell’s Solar Decathlon Team – has joined in partnership with Education Africa, a non-profit organization that strives to counter poverty through education. This newly published book is a compilation of their research – full of case studies, local architectural history, details about the city and region, childhood development strategies, building sites, structures and a pre-design brief. The book was distributed to libraries across the Cornell campus.
Ultimately, this research will inform the design of a 6,000-square-foot pre-school and teacher-training center, known locally as a crèche. Second-year Cornell architectural students – and students from many disciplines all across campus – will work to determine the final plans this semester for building the schoolhouse.
The crèche will accommodate up to 80 of Cosmo City’s neediest children as part of a South African national initiative to improve early childhood development. It will include classrooms, a dining area, a kitchen, a health center, indoor and outdoor play areas, and an office. Interactive spaces will create a sanctuary for group learning, creative play and social development – all without any electricity or solar panels.
The student team leaders include: Barry Beagen, Jesse McElwain, Jonathan Leape, Karen Chi Lin, Michael Jiang, Daniel Lu, and Juliette Dubroca.
The faculty advisors are Kifle Gebremedhin, Cornell professor of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Jeremy Foster, Cornell assistant professor of Landscape Architecture and Aleksandr Mergold, Cornell associate professor of Architecture.