actLAB is a New York-based collaborative design group working at the intersection of architecture, education, illustration and social entrepreneurship. The studio is formed by good friends of mine, led by architect Aya Maceda with collaborators Sandra Javera and Buzz Wei.
They are a really young office producing a range of very interesting projects. They recently launched a kickstarter campaign to fund one of their latest projects: ClassAct: Active School, a proposal to [re]build classrooms for marginal Filipino Communities through low-cost school design that innovates local construction. I believe is a project worth taking a look at and support in any way you can afford, so I asked them to write a small entry for the blog explaining what they aim to achieve with this proposal:
Spurred by the urgency to help displaced students of back-to-back disasters that hit the Philippines, the ClassAct Foundation, co-founded by GSAPP alumna and faculty, Aya Maceda are trying to put 150 children back into a safe facility to learn. They are not only rebuilding schools in the devastated areas of Visayas, Philippines but they are transforming classrooms into better and more efficient learning facilities. The classrooms that will be built through this project will not only serve as regular classrooms for the beneficiary school but they will also serve as a place for vocational classes and disaster preparedness workshops for the community.
What started out as a design-research exploration on the typology of a classroom (through the funding of Columbia University GSAPP’s Percival and Naomi Goodman Fellowship) has become a bigger discussion in how architecture can help fill the educational gap in rural areas of the Philippines — ClassAct’s Active School offers a model for networked after-hours schools in the Visayas region.
On October 15, 2013, the largely rural region of Visayas, Philippines was devastated by back-to back catastrophes — the 7.2 magnitude earthquake immediately followed by super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Among hundreds of lives lost, 300,000 displaced and $170M damage to buildings, 1,134 classrooms were destroyed: leaving 15,000 children in make-shift classrooms a year after the disasters.
We have partnered with the St. Vincent Institute in the town of Maribojoc, Bohol, which was completely destroyed and remains without funding to rebuild. WE WILL BUILD OUR PROTOTYPE CLASSROOMS on their school site, which they will use for formal classes during the day, and by the community for vocational and disaster-preparedness programs after-hours.
The prototype is the implementation of Aya Maceda’s design-research project from Columbia University GSAPP’s Goodman Fellowship. The design RE-DEFINES THE BASIC UNIT OF THE CLASSROOM as a place of learning for both formal and vocational education and a venue for community development. The framework draws from the notion of traditional Filipino “verandah” [open living spaces]. Classrooms are bright and open-air. Each elevated FORMAL learning space extends to a lower INFORMAL free space.
The structures combine local craftsmanship with modern engineering for maximum resiliency. The goal is to empower locals to maintain and repair the structure with their inherent building knowhow + innovate cottage industries [thus revitalizing the local economic ecosystem] while promoting sustainability.
The classrooms are devices to develop new avenues for learning. With leadership our curriculum director, Pam Damarillo, ClassAct will work with our partner schools to ensure our flexible new learning spaces positively affect their pedagogy.
ClassAct’s after-hours vocational curriculum for youths and adults that is geared towards technology, entrepreneurship, and design will allow our students to take part in the global marketplace, thus strengthening community development and economic stability.
Each of our classrooms will be equipped with internet and Boardshare facilities to enable open-education workshops and to connect with other institutions around the globe, providing access to specialized education even from their remote locations.
Our network of local community activists will also use the alternative spaces to hold workshops for disaster preparedness and community building.
Architecture can bring tremendous social and economic value to communities in need.
This is a collective effort and we hope through this campaign, we could make this project a reality. EARLY PLEDGES MATTER. HELP US GAIN MOMENTUM FOR THIS CAUSE.
To visit the project and support it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/405966022/classact-active-school