A contingent of UAE architects and students will travel to a rural village in Cameroon in July to build a school designed in a Dubai-based student architecture competition.

The school will be built in a village on Umbissa Island in the mountainous Ngoketunjia district of northwest Cameroon. It will consist of four 63-square-metre rooms and will be built to accommodate 260 students.

The design workshop was open to UAE architecture students and was led by non-profit architecture organisation Open Source Arc and the American University in Dubai’s International Aid Society (AIA).

The workshop was conducted in collaboration with the Dubai chapter of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) and the Dubai offices of UK architecture firms Atkins, RMJM and Hopkins.      

The students’ architecture brief asked for designs to address the social and economic needs of the villagers, as well as the environmental and functional requirements of a region limited in resources. Proposals also needed to consider local concepts of design, construction and material-use.

The biggest challenges faced by the winning team included redesigning classrooms in rural Africa, the limited skills of on-site workers and engineers, climate, materials and constructibility. A final consideration was the design needed to be modular and easily reproduced.

Jurors for the competition included:

  • Simon Fraser (Hopkins)
  • Shaun Killa (Atkins)
  • Simon Crispe (Atkins)
  • Kevin Mitchell (American University of Sharjah)
  • Peter Di Sabatino (American University of Sharjah)
  • George Katodrytis, chair (American University of Sharjah)

Open Source Arc hope to coordinate similar efforts for projects in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Nepal, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa, Iran and the UAE.