Reporting by Diego Collazos | Regional Program Coordinator, Latin America
As the excitement and anticipation builds for the opening ceremony in Cartagena, I am happy to report that construction on the San Francisco de Asis School classrooms in Colombia is finished.
The school’s primary objective is to provide quality education to low-income families from flood-affected communities and up to 240 students from the Arroz Barato community and surrounding settlements will be the primary beneficiaries.
The project highlights environmentally friendly construction elements and materials that will help reduce the impact of the extreme weather conditions, as well as preserve the existing green areas and trees that provide natural shading for the students. Additionally, locally available materials and labor were employed during the construction process.
A key factor for building this successful project was community engagement from the early stages. Students, teachers and parents were involved in participatory design processes that helped define project guidelines and priorities for the designers to take into account.
Moreover, community empowerment was greater achieved by working with a group of volunteer students to design and build exterior and landscape elements based on recycling materials that included bottles and wood. The students’ work emphasizes the importance of rainwater management and gardening education.
I’d also like to give thanks to the local Architect of Record, Opus Estudio, for their collaborative and creative design that preserves existing green areas, and a special recognition to builder Pedro Medina Tejeda for his commitment to the project and to employing local community members throughout the construction process.
Congratulations to San Francisco de Asis School!!!
Diego is a registered architect and development practitioner. A native from Bolivia, Diego completed his undergraduate studies at The Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico and holds a Masters in Building and Urban design in Development from the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment in London. Diego with over 10 years of experience working in diverse Latin American countries joined Architecture for Humanity in 2010 and has been involved in the Happy Hearts, Nike and Enel Cuore programs focused in Latin America.
In March 2012, Architecture for Humanity initiated a partnership with Enel, Europe’s second-largest utility company and a provider of sustainable energy around the world. The program, facilitated through Enel’s foundation, Enel Cuore Onlus, is designed to build capacity in rural and urban areas affected by considerable poverty and social disadvantage.