Burkina Faso in a landlocked country in West Africa. It is economically poor and has been confronted with many challenges, such as frequent military coups soon after independence, recurring droughts and high rates of HIV/AIDS. This is reflected in its Low Human Development Index of 0.423 which puts it in 183rd position out of 189 countries (2018). While children are expected to receive schooling for eight to nine years, the actual average number of years of school attendance is two for boys and one for girls. There are few secondary school places in the country as a whole and none in some rural regions. Attending secondary school is a privilege: less than 12% of boys and 6% of girls receive any secondary education.
The Bethel School in Gourcy was one of the few places where 450 children could attend secondary school but prior to construction of the new campus it was severely overcrowded with 4 children sharing a single desk in many classrooms. The existing two-storey concrete buildings were dark and very hot. We teamed up with Giving Africa and the local mission AEAD to design and build five new classrooms, three vocational teaching spaces, as well as outdoor teaching space, a library, latrines and changing rooms for sports. The new construction increased the school places from 480 to 1000. The new buildings have been designed to make indoor spaces comfortable despite the harsh climate which sees 45˚C temperatures in summer. They all have tall louvered windows for cross-ventilation; a double roof is angled and oriented to catch the prevailing breezes and cool the space above the classroom ceiling. Roof overhangs also shade the exterior walls to minimise heat gain; the result is a comfortable space for teaching and learning.
Measuring Environmental Performance for Human Thermal Comfort
The Gourcy climate is very hot for most of the year and the Bethel School building is designed to achieve thermal comfort without the use of air conditioning. The occupied spaces are designed to be cross-ventilated and the space between the roofs is intended to cool the classrooms. Measurements of internal and external air temperatures, room air velocity and indicators of ventilation effectiveness were required to establish the actual building environmental performance. Additionally, measures of the internal surface temperature and radiant temperature were desired to determine general occupant thermal comfort.
Article 25, in partnership with Bath University and the BRE Trust, installed sensors to measure air temperature, relative humidity and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration (a proxy for ventilation effectiveness) which recorded data for several months. These data are currently being analysed and will be published in a report this year.
Look out for the full report, coming soon.