Located at Nato High School in Camarines-Sur of the Bicol Peninsula in the Philippines, the project is conceived as a response to the need for a new classroom prototype that is able to withstand strong winds. The prototype consists of 2 identical classrooms and washrooms. Here, the building takes the form of a typical vernacular domestic structure found all over the archipelago, with large sloping roofs and shaded verandah. From the outset, the idea of a big sheltering roof was important as a means to shade and protect from the elements.
The main parts of the building are a simple reinforced concrete frame structure that defines the classroom enclosure and a series of standard bamboo frames lashed together to form the roof. The repetitive nature of the structural design aims to make rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts easier. Bamboo as a building material is sustainable as it grows in abundance and fast locally. It also behaves differently under extreme load in comparison to timber and steel, making it ideal for resisting strong winds.
The plan adheres to the typical typology of linear classroom block: one room deep with a verandah on one side. This simple arrangement allows for cross ventilation, shading and daylighting: factors which are vital in the hot and humid weather. The prototype improves the typology by raising the ground level on a concrete platform by about 550mm to keep the floors dry during the wet season. This is also to protect the bamboo culms from getting wet as moisture normally renders them susceptible to rot and insect attack. The verandah is widened at the centre which provides space for play or informal teaching under the shade.
In a full development, the classroom units will be arranged repetitively in a linear fashion with the verandahs connected to create a long corridor. This provides covered walkways between classrooms and other academic blocks within the school.