I love the moment where I finally get to the core of a problem. Out of a deep connection with my client and chosen place I can now see a way forward, a way to translate an abstract emotion, vision or dream into spatial, embodied reality.

When I was working on the prototype school in Zambia, we were mainly analysing contemporary schools in the country, their construction and technology. Until I realised that, in order to understand how Zambian people organise and use space, we should be looking at traditional housing typologies and social rituals instead. We learned that in this hot country, the main social space is not inside buildings, but in the shaded and breezy courtyards surrounded by minimal storage buildings with large overhanging roofs. In order to make a Zambian school, we had to make a courtyard building.

Instead of sticking out like its modernist predecessors, the building started to blend into its surroundings harmoniously. Visitors to the site became more and more frequent as word of the different building spread. “It vaguely reminds me of my grannie’s house.” “It seems to always have been here.” By now, the school has seen five years of teaching, indoors and outdoors, and has adopted a second identity hosting the communities’ Sunday sermons.