Chance For Childhood, a UK Charity supported by Comic Relief, approached Stephen Waldron Architects to ask if we would design a new school for the deaf in Nyabihu, North Rwanda.
How could we say no? And now the school is OPEN! On visiting the site, the existing ’school’ that Stephen saw was quite something! The staff are wonderful but have had to manage and support the children in the most appalling of buildings because the Rwandan Government doesn’t support the provision of such specialist education. Hence, the involvement of the Chance for Childhood charity.
Stephen Waldron Architects’ involvement meant visiting the site itself and interviewing the team to discuss needs and requirements plus organising a topographic survey to take place, and select an engineer, quantity surveyor, and contractor and finally a local architect to work on the project.
The need for a local architect may seem rather strange but as usual for most countries across the world, the actual planning application has to be submitted by a local architect. We then developed a brief with the client group and headed back to our offices in Hirwaun, South Wales, to begin the design process.
The developed design resulted in a range of classrooms and some specialist provision, including IT and handicrafts. It is usual in Africa for schools like this to be boarding schools and so dormitories, a large kitchen, plus communal dining and assembly areas were also incorporated, and the school can take over 120 children with 60 boarders.
As a result of his work elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East, Stephen Waldron has developed expertise in composting toilets and so one of the features of the scheme is the provision of a large Ecosan composting toilet and shower facility for the children, as well as using rainwater to be recycled and used throughout the site.
The school was opened on 22nd November 2018 to the enormous joy of Louis, the headmaster and his staff.
Stephen Waldron Architects consistently deliver one ‘pro-bono’ project at a time, asking that only their direct expenses, mostly travel, are covered. We are now moving onto our next ‘pro-bono’ project – the design of a Vocational Training School in the same region for deaf children and young people.
There is a JustGiving page in development to raise support for our involvement in this project since the charity for this project is much smaller and would struggle to find the £1,000.00 for our direct costs.