This little modular classroom prototype was built as a result of an architectural competition held in 2007. The competition calls for the redesign of Nato High School in Camarines-Sur of the Bicol Peninsula, around the southeastern part of Luzon. The modular unit consists of 2 identical classrooms with a set of toilets in between. The intention is to replace all the existing classrooms – some makeshift – with modular units once more funding becomes available. Currently, the standalone prototype sits between existing school structures and the contrast between old and new is very apparent. Typically, school buildings in this region tend to be simple boxy structures. Here, the new building takes the form of vernacular domestic structures found all over the archipelago, with large sloping roofs and shaded verandahs. From the outset, the idea of a big sheltering roof was important as a means to shade and protect from the elements.
A simple reinforced concrete frame that defines the classroom enclosure plays an important role in anchoring the bamboo structure. Here, bamboo culms are lowered onto steel anchors which were pre-casted into the concrete structure. The connection between concrete and culm are further secured by injecting concrete into the hollow space of the cane and lashed with nylon strings. Elsewhere, joints between culms are simple pins and lashings.
The plan adheres to the typical typology of linear classroom block: one room deep with a verandah on one side. This simple arrangement allows for cross ventilation, shading and daylighting: factors which are vital in the hot and humid weather. The prototype improves the typology by raising the ground level on a concrete platform by about 550mm to keep the floors dry during the wet season. It is also to protect the culms from getting wet as moisture normally renders them susceptible to rotting and insect attack. The verandah is widened at the centre which provides space for play under the shade. Placement of toilets in the centre helps keep noise levels between classrooms to a minimum. Large openings are secured by vertical bamboo culms, which allow air to flow freely across the room whereas the underside of the verandah is covered with traditional woven ceiling made from local reed called runo.