Maria Auxiliadora School

The Maria Auxiliadora School is part of the Happpy Hearts Fund – ING school reconstruction program. The school has been developed with the support of Architecture for Humanity involved in providing architectural support for: school selection, architectural design and construction administration.

The school
The Maria Auxiliadora School is located in the community of Los Calderones in the Ica region, 15 km south of the city of Ica. After the 7.9 earthquake that affected the ica region in 2007 one of the school buildings containing four classrooms was heavily damaged and students were not able to use the building as a safety precaution. After 3 years the building wasn’t demolished yet and part of the school students had been relocated in a near site in temporary prefabricated classrooms. The current situation was compromising the 70 school students’ safety as they needed to cross the recently paved road and play near a damaged building that could collapse in the eventuality of another earthquake happening in the region.

The Project
Happy Hearts &ING decided to rebuild the school as the proactivity of the school community and the big necessity to provide an effective educational environment was essential. The new primary school needed to consider the demolition of the existing damaged building block and propose a project in which the undamaged infrastructure will be hardly affected during construction; particularly the cross fronting the entrance as it has a very important value for the community.

The new school project includes:

• 4 New classrooms
• Upgrade of one the existing classrooms in order to convert it into a computer lab
• Upgrade of one the existing classrooms in order to convert it into an equipped library.• Administrative area.• Multiuse shading area to be used as stage, eating area, etc.• Upgrade of the courtyard.• Green areas and external landscape.• Upgrade of the toilets roof in order to convert it into a terraced games area.• Small kiosk
• Upgrade of the drainage system.• Upgrade of the electrical system.

During the design stage it was very important to generate community participation by working along with the school in different workshops and other activities. The workshops’ objectives were introduced to engage and enthusiasm the school’s community towards their new school and explain them that this is a process in which everyone must be committed in order to have the best school possible; also the activities were an important tool to understand the school’s most important needs, priorities, interests, and engage them in a participatory design process.



Sustainable features
Environmental Sustainability:

  • Recycling rebar from ruble after demolition not only promotes the reuse of materials but also reduces pollution from construction waste and construction waste transportation
  • The local community recycling and reusing window frames and doors from old building before the demolition took place, helping reduce the construction waste.
  • Use the existing structure such as staircase or toilets roof in order to reduce the size of the construction therefore reducing the impact in the use of non-renewable materials.
  • Cross ventilation by permitting the building to have different options for window openings in order to let fresh air flow across the room, cooling and renewing the air in the classroom.
  • Natural light by orientating the buildings in a position in which the classrooms won’t need to use electricity during daytime activities.
  • The materials used provide adequate insulation to the local climate in order for the classrooms not to need heating or air conditioning devices.
  • Use of local materials such as cement, wood, stone, sand, rebar, etc. widely available close to the community in order to reduce the impact of transportation pollution. About 85% of the materials were brought from local stores 14% from Chincha (50 miles) and only 1% from Lima (140 miles).
  • Labor transport impact reduced by having most of the workforce relocated to the worksite during construction.
  • Use of local organic materials for exterior shading such as wood and bamboo. These materials provide a more refreshing insulation and their waste don’t pollute the environment.
  • Outdoor vernacular shading construction procedure lets air pass through the openings producing more effective ventilation.
  • Promotion of green spaces by providing raised bed gardens and garden areas.

Cultural Sustainability:

  • Design a building that is easily related with the local context and has the features of an efficient building in structural and educational terms.
  • Community participation by integrating teachers, students and parents in the design process and decision making by doing a series of workshops, design charettes and meetings.
  • Support in different educational activities not related with construction such as drawing contest, photography classes, reading workshops, etc.
  • The complete building is affordable to maintain and easily to repair in order for not be a burden for the school’s administration.
  • Architectural typology is adequate to the local context providing a sense of ownership from the community to the school.
  • Support the local community by generating a post-demolition event to recycle materials from construction waste.

Architecture for Humanity
The role of Architecture for Humanity was essential throughout all the school reconstruction stages. The first step was to run the school evaluations process to select the best school option. The next stage involved Architecture for Humanity designing the new school in a participatory process as well as coordinating with the local engineers and other professionals the necessary construction documents needed to start the works. Once construction was taking place Architecture for Humanity was closely monitoring the construction site and providing construction administration services in order to build a quality infrastructure that will be used by the children of Calderones for the next generations.

“… Seeing the new educational facility is very emotional for me as we had difficult times after the earthquake as our school was in almost in ruins. The new classrooms are very comfortable and appropriate to provide education and the multiuse stage area will engage the children in different cultural activities…”
Miguel Angel Sanchez 3rd and 4th grade teacher

“… Working with Architecture for Humanity has been very important as the design fellow was involved from the early paperwork stages to post occupancy evaluations. Also the school was engaged at different stages of the design and construction process, the community really liked that…”
Doria Gloria Rosas School’s head teacher & 1st grade teacher

“… My new school is very nice and colorful, I like to study and this new school has all the facilities to learn and prepare for the future…”

Talia Asly 1st grade student (7 years old)

Activities during construction
The following list includes the links to the reports and presentations of the most relevant activities that took place during the design and construction process as well as other school activities.

School evaluation
Evaluation form with most important data, information, images and details describing the school and its surroundings before the school reconstruction took place
Designing in a participatory process
Report describing the most important activities, workshops, and design charrettes involving the school community during the design stage.
Architectural design brief
Report describing the architectural program including basic data, general concepts, guidelines and objectives of the school project.
Schematic Design Architectural project describing and visualizing how the school will look like before construction took place.
Construction schedule
Table showing the estimated construction schedule for the construction of the school.
Maria Auxiliadora opening ceremony:
Slide show describing one of the most important days at the school as the community, authorities and special guests gathered together for the opening ceremony.