Situated in remote Senegal, the new Fass School, and Teachers’ Residence is the first school in a region of over 110 villages to provide secular education alongside traditional Quranic teaching. A project completed in collaboration with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Le Korsa, the school can serve up to 300 students from ages 5 through 10.
Inspired by the ‘One Room School House’ in rural America where Josef Albers once taught, the school’s design can accommodate students of different age groups and at diverse stages of development. In the design, four classrooms and two flexible spaces are arranged around an interior courtyard. The oval shape allows for easy circulation between classrooms, allowing the school’s few teachers to move quickly between classes. The variation of the perimeter walls in terms of height and proximity to one another creates a wide variety of sections and experiences throughout the building.
The building’s shape was inspired by vernacular precedents, while its construction utilized local, traditional skills and materials. Small steel members and bamboo support mud-brick walls, which are painted white to deflect heat, and perforated to allow for ventilation and airflow throughout the building. An inversion of the traditional pitched roof, the thick thatch roof reinforces climactic comfort by providing effective insulation against extreme heat. A stack effect allows hot air to rise into the peak of the roof while inviting cool air into the spaces. With a roof pitch consistently 45 degrees or greater, the unique form also maximizes rainwater runoff, diverting water into a channel that encircles the building and empties toward an existing aquifer.