Learning Center in Village Danhug, Ormoc City, Island of Leyte, Philippines
While running architectural practice for nearly 2 years in rural Philippines, Scandinavian Design studio Native Narrative designed a series of after-school facilities, this project is their third completed. The challenge of the brief was to create a safe informal after-school facility that encourage children in the age of 4-17 to play, study and form an inspired relationship to self directed learning. Native Narrative integrated a library unit, study spaces, a reading area, two restrooms and a performance area within the 9 x 7m footprint, the size of a standard Filipino classroom.
The building sits between a sugarcane field and the ongoing construction site of a new evacuation center. While functioning as an after-school facility during weekdays and weekends, the building becomes a safe meeting spot for children in the event of emergency situations. The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world based on the world risk index. As it’s located in the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ the country is highly vulnerable to typhoons, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis. In order to enhance a typhoon and earthquake resilient structure, the column layout is kept simple and symmetric, while the structure itself is made of reinforced concrete with hollow block walls and a lightweight metal roof, protected from typhoons behind a parapet wall.
The building is raised from the ground to prevent it flooding. The raised veranda also becomes a dedicated performance stage that gives children an opportunity to perform during local fiestas and celebrations, an essential part of Filipino community culture.
Native Narrative worked in close collaboration with local NGOs and the local government to develop prototypes for after-school facilities that was technically undemanding and constructed with well-tried locally available materials so that these buildings can be easily assembled by relatively unskilled (while supervised) workers.
By the end of 2018, four Native Narrative designed after-school facilities were constructed, while five more are scheduled to be constructed during 2019. Each project is being refined and adapted to the different site conditions. The project collaboration is a response to the newly approved Children’s Emergency Relief Protection Act in the Philippines, that increases the accountability of local and national agencies to prioritise the protection and development of children by establishing child-friendly spaces. After creating these new standards for after-school facilities in the 110 villages that Ormoc consist of, the Government was nominated to be among the three Most Child-friendly Cities in The Philippines in 2018.
All furniture is made of plywood by local carpenters while the bespoke woven seating-covers is made of Pandan, a grass grown, dried, dyed and woven by a local collective of weavers. Native Narrative wished not only to celebrate native produce but also to raise the status of native woven products in an area where imported foreign products is often preferred over locally produced craft.