If You Plan to Build 100 Schools in Congo
. within a limited time, you have to be efficient.
This means one needs a standard design prepared with an even more standardized system that allows small adjustments to be made for each project.
Having broken ground on more than 100 schools over the last year, my strategy for creating project construction documents has evolved. In the beginning, I created all of the standard drawings for classrooms (in blocks of 3, 4, 5, and 6) and latrines. Below you can see an example set for a block of three classrooms. The brick + cast in place concrete + corrugated roof panel scheme is typical of rural East African architecture. All dimensions conform to the Congolese Ministry of Education standards (which sometimes differ between provinces) and provide seating for approximately 30 students per classroom.
In the beginning, I would adjust each drawing set to cater the communities’ needs. Some would want water catchment; some a ceiling, or a different type of flooring. My first few sets of documents were consumed in these details – as I represented each variation visually. It became clear by my 15th school however, that the number of projects and their pressing deadlines would not permit such attention to detail. I have therefore begun using this single set of drawings and directing the contractor to the budget. This allows us the control all construction details through contractual language and the material quantities that arrive on site.
Below is a Bill Of Quantities that we use to build the most common school unit of 3 classrooms, 2 latrines and a water capture system. In this variation, the foundations have been budgeted as stone masonry which frames the cheapest flooring option: compacted soil topped with a brick pavers and a pure cement finish. Quantities for bricks, sand and gravel vary according to material quality and brick dimensions – and have been slightly increased to ensure sufficient quantities. (It should also be noted that all local materials here can be decreased in the event that the community has access to such materials and can contribute them to the building effort.) Tools and measuring instruments should also be factored into project costs, as their quality usually limits them to a “one project” life span. In all, a project of this scope (in the accessible regions of South Kivu) will cost less than $22,800 and take about 3 months to build.
|5||Scaffolding Posts (± 5m each)||pce||60|
|9||Formwork Wood (3.5m ea.)||pce||35|
|10||“2×4” Wood (3.5m ea.)||pce||94|
|11||“2×2” wood perlins (3.5m ea.)||pce||75|
|12||Fascia Board 25cm wide, 3.75m long||pce||18|
|21||Measuring Tape, 50m||pce||1|
|22||Measuring Tape, 5m||pce||1|
|23||Mason Hammer, 5 kg||pce||2|
|24||Mason Hammer, 1 kg||pce||1|
|32||Scissors (Tin Shears)||pce||1|
|38||20 Liter Bucket||pce||6|
|39||Large Sand Sieve (5mm)||m2||1|
|40||Fine Sand Sieve (2mm)||m2||1|
|42||12mm String (100m Roll)||pce||1|
|43||Nylon String (100m Roll)||pce||2|
|44||Rebar HA6 (12m ea.)||pce||52|
|45||Rebar HA8 (12m ea.)||pce||42|
|46||Galvanized Tie Wire||kg||15|
|47||Galvanized Roof Panel (G30)||pce||103|
|48||Galvanized Roof Crown||pce||15|
|60||PVC 110mm Elbow||pce||3|
|61||PVC 110mm “T”||pce||3|
|63||Plastic Water Tank (2m3)||pce||1|
|65||Complete Wood Door 0.8×2.10||pce||2|
|66||Complete Wood Door 0.9×2.10||pce||3|
|67||Complete Wood Window (150×110)||pce||6|
|68||Complete Wood Window (200×110)||pce||6|
|69||Chalk / Lime (50 kg)||sac||3|
I provide these details not to help you understand what a good three room school building will cost – or how to build such a building. There are numerous beneficial details that are missing from this example. Rather, I present it here to show what a team of locally trained masons could be expecting to build. It could also be assumed that a rural community would enjoy seeing such an example built for their school.
I welcome you to use this information as a reference point for your own designs. Any improvements to this scheme could drive the project cost up – but in my view, any and all considerations taken towards appropriate, contextual design can have lasting positive affects towards the sustained development of your community.
The next step, of course, is the how. Material procurement, appropriate construction methods, conflict, and corruption present the most formidable challenges to project completion. … But perhaps that will be left to a follow up post…