Children’s House is a project that is founded on an alternative educational model, offering activities that find solutions to the real problems of the population in the San Andrés Payuca rural community, north-east of Puebla, Mexico. Correspondingly, the school’s curriculum includes instruction in agriculture, farming and building construction, in addition to normal course work. The design for the school – arranged by Fundación la Concepción and self-built by the community – proposes the use of cement-reinforced compacted blocks using readily accessible local earth.
The design of the block with tapered corners permits assembly in a variation of curves based on organic principles. The school will double as a cultural center for the community, offering access to a library, the Internet and the school’s sports fields.
The contemporary model of education is teaching people to relinquish their creative capacities at an early age. The project aspires to evolve from what is essentially an industrial model of education to a model that is based more on organic principles. When a child starts school, they work with many colors and materials; by their last year of school, they are left with only a notebook and a pen. When did the line break? That line, the simplest form of expression is the line in time which represents an individual’s life and each step ahead of them. This school is a line that shall be a life story for each child. Children shall follow this line, which will transcend dimensions and become a wall; after it has traveled a certain way, it will in a sense become space to travel through life that will never restrain you, but will protect you and show you the way.
Progress: Kokokali is a compound word derived from the Nahuatl kokone (children) and kali (house). The project proposes the use of a block especially-designed for this school. This block is a systematic module that is very easy to elaborate. The cinder blocks are fabricated using a mix of concrete, sand and readily-accessible local earth. The design of the block consists of making a minimum variation in curves with different angles for its use on different locations and spatial conditions.
People: The school aims to change the paradigm of education in Mexico’s rural communities, and seeks the participation of all parties involved – from the federal government, to the people in the community. It focuses on the profile of the population, offering activities that find solutions to the real problems of the area. In this school that will be self-built by the community, students will learn about agriculture, farming and building techniques – in addition to the official curriculum.
Planet: The hydrologic design and planning of this school uses passive and highly-efficient mechanisms to connect different uses of water in the local context, maximizing its use and honoring the environment.
Prosperity: The construction of Kokokali will be financed through donations, in addition to support from the government. The school will be economically sustainable. A proportion of the students’ activities in agriculture, livestock management, hydroponics and construction will generate profits ensuring financial viability.
Place: By using the curved block, Kokokali becomes a dynamic non-hierarchical space, which allows flexibility in the program. It responds to the need for a space of equality and trust, this virtue is magnified by classrooms that connect either to indoor gardens or the main square.