In central Kenya, Architecture for Humanity (AfH) is creating a covered basketball court for the new Mahiga Hope High School. This isn't just any basketball court we're talking about, it's a net-positive Rainwater Court: the roof will have integrated rainwater collection and UV purification systems, along with solar panels to power the school. Although the project will serve primarily as a basketball court, assembly space, dining area and outdoor classroom for students, the entire community will also be able to attend farmers markets, local music and arts performances, movies and meetings in the only large, sheltered gathering place in the area.
Though the concept is complex, the design by Greg Elsner is elegant. Solar panels on the metal roof of the court will power lights for the entire school complex, while gutters will collect enough rainwater to meet the school's complete H20 needs (an estimated 90,000 liters per year with 30,000 liters of storage), and a UV purifier will make water drinkable for thirsty post-game students.
Between the two water storage tanks on the sidelines, a stage for performances has a solid back wall for movie projection and class presentations. The 500 sq meters of surface area, sheltered from the prevailing wind and the hot sun, will be ample room for school meetings and community events. view larger
To achieve their off-the-grid vision, AfH will use 100 percent local, sustainable and recycled materials during construction, such as Nike Regrind (a forgiving surface made of used tennis shoe soles) for the court floor. In keeping with their standard procedure, AfH will hire local construction workers and continue collaborating with community members to perfect the plan. To learn more about the project, watch this video of a planning meeting.
Community Meeting, June 2009
The Rainwater Court is part of a larger, ongoing endeavor sponsored by the Nobelity Project to rejuvenate St. Joseph Mahiga School. With a new computer lab, electricity, and purified rainwater, as well as a good dose of motivation, the primary school catapulted upward in quality, and now is one of the top ranked schools in the region.
That success just wasn't enough, or rather, it was enough to inspire further action. The Nobelity Project, community members, and the Kenyan Regional Education District are now collaborating to build a four-year high school to educate more than 400 boys and girls who otherwise would have nowhere to go after their eighth year. The upcoming documentary film "One Peace at a Time," features the inspiring Mahiga students.
Images by Turk Pipkin and Dick Clark Architecture, CC license
Read through the Worldchanging archives to see more projects by Architecture for Humanity:
Architecture for Humanity Joins Forces with Yéle Haiti
Mobile AIDS Clinics
2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Winners Announced!
The Open Architecture Network and the Future of Design
This is cool. I wonder, though, about the maintaining the solar panels. If they break, will the materials be around to fix them? Will anyone have the expertise required to do so?
One small thing done by many groups becomes a great thing for the world. Congratulations on this endeavour. This is a real solution for the real world.