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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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