UNDER ONE ROOF Mozambique Pre-school

The understanding of a school as an inclusive and sheltered environment is a primary guideline dictating the design process. By occupying the full length of the site, the intervention naturally emerges as a protective enclosure effectively positioning the building as a safe space with an anchored presence in the landscape.

Within the enclosure, the program is laid out following the natural topography of the site. Two distinct islands surface at different levels and house complementary programs: the learning environment and the support functions. Classrooms are conceived as emerging from the ground whereas offices and other utilities read as an extension dropping from the roof.

Departing from the conviction that the educational journey starts with play, a central spine links both islands and seems like an organic extension of the landscape. It is an area of self-expression, free movement and full trust where learning is an organic and dynamic process. Other functions like cooking, eating and reading plug in to the spine making it an expandable entity where children are exposed to a multitude of experiences. The classrooms follow a modular system where each two share a multipurpose and storage area. The module is repeated three times on site. Within the classrooms, the boundaries are adaptable and offer various scenarios of space appropriation depending on the required learning experience. Their thick outer envelope is punctured by big openings for air to circulate freely towards a porous internal skin. The offices and back of house area are more discreet and blend within the roof's umbrella. Both islands are built with CEB blocks but the construction techniques differ thus proposing different spatial experiences and volumetric expressions.

The dried grass roof acts as the battery of the project. It is the vital entity that feeds all the programs happening below. It morphs depending on the functions it needs to perform. The roof thickens to become a wind tower and ventilate the spaces below. It also sinks in to become a rain water collection tank cooling the second part of the spine. It is an organic and soft entity responding to the natural environment and using natural resources to make the school sustainably functional.

Beyond a programmatic insertion, the school feels it always belonged to the landscape and is anchored in its natural environment. Mostly, children will be able to grow within a familiar and comforting space where their well-being is nurtured and prioritized.