Myfyr Euron Jones-Evans is a final year BA (Hons) Architecture student who recently won the inaugural Finsa/LJMU Architecture prize for his response to a brief to create a school that can be readily constructed and transported, to meet the needs of children affected by humanitarian crises or natural catastrophes and offer them a safe learning environment
The aim of this project was to create a “flat pack” school that could be transported to a disaster area and be assembled quickly and effectively to bring some level of normality to the children affected by natural disasters. I chose Accumoli, Italy as my location, the epicentre of a destructive earthquake in August 2016 which tragically claimed over 300 lives and brought about the total destruction of towns and villages, causing major disruption to the survivors.
I wanted to create a school that could be easily transported and easily assembled in a matter of days by ordinary people with no previous experience of building or carpentry. Therefore, I set out to create a simple, modular design which requires no power tools to assemble, apart from possibly a hammer, and could be erected in a day by as few as six people.
I designed a system where all the components could be slotted together without any nails, screws or glue. Once I had an idea of the system I then began to look at the purpose of the architecture and what it would do for the community, and of course the children that would be attending the school. By being a modular system, it quickly became apparent that the school could be changed in floor plan and size.
The design included a part which would allow modules to be added to the school to make it wider not longer, giving flexibility in the sense that the school could be extended in many different ways. This led to the idea that the school could be changed in a series of different phases. Phase 1 would be the school that could fit into one container and would contain all the furniture and elements required to create a school with two classrooms that would fit 30 children. Phase 2 would be when the occupants could order either individual parts, or another Phase 1 package to add to the existing school and extend the school.
This freedom and flexibility was something I set out to achieve from the beginning. I wanted the school to be able to go anywhere in the world, on any site, in any climate, and to be turned into any shape or size with the imagination of the children and other users’ needs with the simple addition of more parts. This led to everything being designed with flexibility being the foremost consideration. The foundations are screw foundations, meaning that they can be lowered or raised to suit various terrains. The pulley system included would allow the children to design their classrooms and take off non-structural panels to open up their classroom to the world outside.
To prove my design, I built a model which followed true to the design in not using any glue and was an exact 1:20 scale replica with every element built and assembled exactly the way it would be on site. I also wrote an instruction manual giving step by step instructions on building the school. The assembly method shown in the instruction manual was the exact same sequence as would be done with the full-size building.
My aim for the project was to create a blank canvas for education – a school that the children would be able to change physically and make their own. I focused on creating a design that was not constricted to one configuration and one site: rather a design that accommodated the imagination and needs of those that would use it, and which would restore stability and normality as quickly as possible to the lives of victims living in disaster areas.