Kencada school, Mombasa

“Small utopia”, a school in Bamburi, Mombasa.

The main objective of the project for a new school in Bamburi is to transform the principles that guide the Kenkada learning and educational methods in spaces that can reflect it in the best way. The project therefore works on the usual school type, trying to make the correct changes and the necessary innovations, useful to spatially decode the Kenkada approach. The school is based on a principle of “spatial democracy” in which each environment enjoys the same conditions, arranging itself according to simple geometries with differentiated topological outcomes, according to a modular (but not repetitive) logic that allows successive additions. The overall school framework is structured on the coexistence, within a safe and protected threshold, of a family of volumes/pavilions, linked one to another by different relationships of proximity, creating fresh shadow zones to their sides. Masses and voids are orchestrated to form a sort of small village, where local architectural languages and materials can mix with the pure forms of modernity. This desire to design in a mix of styles is also underlined by the different shape of the roofs, now flat now with the typical makuti method. The distribution spaces are not thought as corridors but, consonant to the nearest function, they are enriched with uses that also turn them into places to stay and assembly, not just for crossing. So the “space in between”, which is the connective tissue, gradially becomes wardrobe, widespread library, exhibition site, meeting area: the perspectives it generates are never equal to themselves, in spite of their equal spatial conformation. They are therefore an important “phenomenological tool”: those who will pass through them will walk between blank walls, or in a compressed space that opens in a little square or with a view toward the distant landscape, or in a long narrow place with many accesses: the project looks for the intent to encourage a creative use of space by the students. These spaces are also accompanied by a system of shelters that end with some wells/sculptures, useful for collecting rainwater in a coehrent system. They (the corridors) also serve as natural ventilation pathways. It’s also provided a flexible system of internal partition in the learning spaces. They are placed all in column, becoming suitable to re-arrange themselves as a single capable and ample room, or at least to widen towards the closest environment. A paneling system that “bundle” to the sides of the classrooms follows this principle, joining environments and creating larger spaces, open to different activities.