Ranwas School
by CAUKIN Studio

In 2015, Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, leaving much of the country in devastation. Ranwas Primary School and its contents were destroyed. Tanbok Project identified the need for new classrooms and a library that could withstand the harsh local humidity of the surrounding area.

Cyclone Pam was the second most intense tropical cyclone of the south Pacific Ocean in terms of winds and is considered one of the worst natural disasters in the history of Vanuatu. The cyclone left the children to be taught in unsuitable temporary shelters and with a lack of teaching supplies and materials.

Tanbok Project, an NGO, was established in the wake of the natural disaster.

In the following years, the community came together to rebuild 3 classrooms. However, they still needed an additional classroom, library space, and a teachers office.

The library must decrease the humidity levels through passive design strategies, as Ranwas is subjected to very high humidity throughout most of the year (peaking 99%).

The Ranwas School project, led by CAUKIN Studio was transformed by introducing a few changes in the partition walls while maintaining the original structure intact.

This was CAUKIN’s first venture into construction projects in Vanuatu.

The extremely remote location meant that all materials had to endure a 24 hour boat journey followed by a 1.5 hour 4x4 truck journey along a treacherous road. 

The final design combines a timber portal frame structure with local woven bamboo cladding, shutter windows with a polycarbonate and metal roof. The roof increases the air temperature and reduces the relative humidity, stack ventilation allows for a continuous flow of air.

The rigorous design process was conducted together with engineers and environmental design specialists.

In addition to this, an end-grain timber internal wall acts as a humidity buffer that absorbs some of the moisture in the air further lowering the humidity. 

A central ladder in the library leads up to a small mezzanine space that opens out through a circular door, creating a small, bright and cosy reading space for children.

The portal frame shape allows for a declining sloped facade that minimises water contact with the walls, cross ventilation, high ceiling and an economical amount of timber for its strength.

Whilst also providing an internal bench.

Woven bamboo walls utilise the local sustainable material and local skills. Large windows running either side of the classroom bring in natural daylight as well as cross ventilation.

Breathable and durable cladding at zero cost - enabling future maintenance of the building to be carried out by the community independently

The project construction took place over the course of 8 weeks, with a team of 15 international participants from architecture schools and practices, working alongside over 50 local workers.

Much of the detailing happened concurrently with the project construction, with all participants living within Ranwas Village and gaining experience and knowledge through cultural immersion.

Lead Designers CAUKIN Studio
Project Leaders Harrison Marshall, David Mahon
International Participants Aaron Chan, Greg Cockburn, Nicole Johnson, Adonai Boamah-Nyamekye, Bethany Stewart, Amanda Selormey, Alice Reynolds-Pryce, Gwyneth Chan, Jagoda Lintowska, Soni Gurung, Samuel Napleton, Danel Jansen van Rensburg, Huxley Edwards.
Environmental design consultants Vicki Stevenson, Eshrar Latif and Julie Gwilliam
Project Partners The Tanbok Project
Support Professors at Cardiff University (passive ventilation strategy)
Photographs Katie Edwards
Year 2019

Pop-Up Theater House of Chickens draftworks* architects Going public MAJA Autumn 2019 Mountain View Office SK Law Shoah Memorial

a project powered by Itinerant Office

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