Exterior view of Mwabwindo School/ Courtsey of Selldorf Architects

Mwabwindo School

The Design Miami/ Visionary Award was presented to Mwabwindo School in 2017.

Mwabwindo School serves primary school students in rural southern Zambia, where travel distance to school is one of the biggest impediments to quality education. The project provides the larger community of Mwabwindo Village with vital improvements to infrastructure and access to goods and services, including wells and water systems, increased access to medical services, recreational areas, and more. Mwabwindo School is collaborative, the first of its kind in the award’s history, conceived by 14+ Foundation, New York; Selldorf Architects, New York; and the artist Rashid Johnson, with commissioned furniture by Christ & Gantenbein, Basel.

Mwabwindo School is the second school in the region developed by 14+ Foundation, an organization committed to increasing education accessibility in rural Africa. The school’s design by Selldorf Architects is inspired by the tall trees on the surrounding savanna that serve as shaded gathering spaces. The complex comprises mud-brick classrooms for 200 students arranged around courtyards and covered by a large corrugated metal roof canopy, housing for eight teachers, a vegetable garden, and playing fields. Handmade bricks were fabricated on-site and buildings constructed by local masons. Rainwater is collected for use in the garden, solar panels provide energy for the school and teachers’ housing, and a windmill powers the facility’s well water. The design also incorporates a mural installation to be created on-site by Johnson in collaboration with students, emphasizing the importance of art-based educational projects and programs.