Day 3: New Site


On Monday morning we headed out to see the site for the first time.  All we knew prior to this visit was that it was 22 hectares, rather flat, vacant except for a well, watertank, and guardhouse, and unoccupied except by tall grass and several anthills.  We also knew that the site was quite long and narrow, with the narrow edge hitting a main road.  Being the architect who was destined to be inside for the rest of the week, I relished the opportunity to actively explore the site.  We were joined by the ministry directors, a translator, and the two national architects.  We walked the length of the site to determine any grade change, and then took a look at the existing well and water tank.  ‘Tall grass’ we decided was a bit of an understatement.  It was more like VERY tall DENSE grass.  The anthill on which the tank sat gave us a great perspective of the site.  There was a grand total of one tree on the site.  Us architects joked that ‘it would have to go because it would ruin the scheme.’  Mostly we found that joke funny because an architect rarely comes across a site such as this with so few design constraints; in a way it can make the process of design more difficult because the best design has a reason behind every choice that is made.




The civils acquired all the information they needed about the well and did some water testing before we headed back to the guest house.  That afternoon was spent with the ministry directors, pushing our way through the tough questions of program, estimated growth, teaching style, parking needs, teacher-student ratio, and the list goes on and on!  It is easy to forget how much is involved in strategic master planning.


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