4.181
Architectural Design Workshop — Campus plan and concept design for a school on Baru, an island off the coast of Cartagena, Columbia

Prerequisites: 
Permission of instructor
Enrollment: 
Lottery to be held (see description)
Preference Given to: 
MArch, SMArchS, DUSP

Background

The Instituto Ecológico Barbacoas is a school located on the island of Barú one-hour south-west from the city of Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia and operated by the nonprofit Fundación Mario Santo Domingo (FMSD).

Currently, around 940 students from elementary school to high school attend that facility from Monday to Friday. The school covers an area of 4 hectares (~10 acres) at the Santa Ana village.

According to a study conducted by FMSD, Santa Ana has approximately 3,792 inhabitants, where 95% are Afro-Colombians. Most of the economic activities are informal, where tourism, fishing, moto-taxismo (motorbike taxi), and handicraft making are the main activities. However, 70% of the population is unemployed or does not have any economic activity. The levels of enrollment in welfare programs are high, with 94% of the total population are supported by the SISBEN welfare program.

In terms of utilities, Santa Ana has electricity and gas, but it lacks drinking water and sewer systems. Thus, the clean water is transport by truck and storage in communal tanks where people have to go to get it. Regarding sewer, the population uses septic systems or portable latrines.

The Project

The school was built decades ago with the concept of open-air classrooms, with independent structures, set amidst trees with thatched roofs. The appearance is charming, but the educational concept and classroom designs resulted in poor learning outcomes. The structures have not weathered well and the entire campus needs to be rethought and rebuilt as a result of damages to the buildings. To solve this situation, FMSD decided to reconstruct the whole campus. This project has strict budgetary limits. In addition to that, they want to include in the new proposal a Centro de Desarrollo Infantil (Childhood development center), which will allow them to serve children of all ages. Adding to this reality, the school will have to function while rebuilding takes place since this is the only land available to develop the project.

This workshop is looking for highly motivated students to develop a master plan for the whole campus. The scope of work of this project will include:

  • Develop one or two proposals for the master plan
  • Define the phasing of construction of the school, considering that the school activities will continue during the construction process.
  • Renovate the entire physical infrastructure, considering the local environmental conditions, materials, and construction technologies.
  • Introduce disaster and risk management strategies to minimize the impacts of potential natural disasters (floods, erosion, etc.)
  • Explore innovative approaches to provide services for the community using the school infrastructure
  • Characterize some parts of the buildings at an architectural level, for example, different classroom formations depending on the age group.

Application

Interested students should send your resume, one-page cover letter, and two pages illustrating recent work to ansantos@mit.edu by the 27th of November.

We encourage highly motivated students in advance architecture and planning (with some architecture background) to apply.

Travel

The Instituto Ecológico Barbacoas is a school located on the island of Barú one-hour south-west from the city of Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia and operated by the nonprofit Fundación Mario Santo Domingo (FMSD). Typically, we work six days a week in an intensive schedule, with weekly reviews by the faculty and visitors. Students would spend two weeks in the study area. The official starting date will be on the 7th of January.