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California College of the Arts architecture students are prototyping a prefabricated classroom for developing nations in the tropics.
California College of the Arts architecture students are prototyping a prefabricated classroom for developing nations in the tropics.
58 backers pledged $3,505 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Lightweight School Structure for Bijagós Islands in Africa project video thumbnail
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The Bijagos School Project is a collaboration between architecture students at California College of the Arts, in San Francisco, and the Orebok Foundation of Guinea Bissau. This non-profit organization is helping to preserve the interrelated cultural and biological ecosystems of the Bijagos Islands--Large sections of this 88 island archipelago are protected by the United Nations as a UNESCO Biosphere Preserve, and it is home to a unique culture of people called the Bidyagos.

Our team of architecture students, faculty, and industry collaborators are developing a simple one-room school structure that can be easily transported and assembled on site on the outlying islands of the archipelago. There is a specific current need for a school structure on the island of Unhocomozinho, which has a resident teacher but no school.

There are several stages to implementing this project, and depending on the levels of support we can develop through this Kickstarter campaign, we hope to be able to have an operational school on Unhocomzinho Island in time for the next school year, which will begin in August, 2013.

The immediate need is for funds to cover the materials and other production costs for building a 50%-scale prototype of the structure. So far we have been working in scale models, and it is time to fabricate large scale pieces so we can test the assembly methods and performance of the building. This will be covered by the initial $2,800 funding request.

If additional funds beyond the minimum target are raised, we will apply them to prototyping the desks, chairs, table, and bookshelf furniture that has also been developed by the team. Finally, we will apply any additional funding to the direct project costs of fabricating, shipping, and installing the school building at its site.

The Orebok Foundation and other project supporters believe that having a large-scale working prototype, and realistic implementation plan, will unlock matching funding for the Bijagos Schools  project from a variety of international non-profit and industry sponsorship sources. We already have a commitment for materials sponsorship for the first school from an international building materials manufacturer, and we expect that the momentum provided by a successful design and prototype built here in the United States will help to establish an ongoing program of multiple schools on more of the islands in the coming year.

Risks and challenges

There are many challenges to getting a school structure to these remote islands, and they have been waiting many years for a successful solution. There are few local resources for building materials or skilled building labor, so the Orebok Foundation has focused on finding a prefabricated building system that can be brought to the islands in small pieces, capable of being unloaded from small boats by the local people. The buildings need to be simple enough to be assembled by the island's residents with no tools, and no skilled labor, following clear pictographic instructions.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Email updates from the project team during the prototype phase, recognition by name as a project sponsor, thank you message and digital newsletter with images at the completion of the prototype phase. And an invitation to come see the completed prototype!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    All of the above sponsor recognition and project updates, plus an emailed digital file of a pop-up fold-out card showing a 3d image of the final classriin design that you can print on your own printer, cut along the dotted lines, fold and display (easy instructions included!).

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    All of the above sponsor recognition and project updates, plus an emailed digital file of a detailed large version of the final design that you can print on your own printer, cut out, and assemble as your own personal model of the prototype classroom. Clear instructions included!

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    Ships to Only United States
    8 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    All of the above rewards, plus by mail you will receive a larger scale laser cut model of the completed design, with instructions for easy assembly. No cutting or hard work, just a fun assembly process of pre-cut pieces so you can experience for yourself the brilliance of the easy-to-assemble, no-tools design.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    All of the above rewards, plus special recognition as a Project Angel, with VIP invitations to special events where the prototype will be exhibited.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
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Funding period

- (15 days)