Nepal Prefabricated School Design

  • 2017

  • Architectural
    Place Design

Designed By:

  • TTW

Commissioned By:

Australian Himalayan Foundation

Designed In:


“Help our Children See” – Sherpa Tenzing Norgay response to Sr Edmund Hillary when asked how we can help you.

Following the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal 270 of the 350 schools supported by the Australian Himalayan Foundation were destroyed.

TTW and HASSELL combined their creative efforts to develop a light weigh earth quake resistant pre-fabricated system that could be carried on foot into steep and remote areas of the Solu Khumbu region, located at the foot hills of Mount Everest, which are inaccessible by vehicle.
The modular system is designed to deliver the three typical standard government classrooms.

  • MORE
  • Traditional construction in Nepal is based on heavy load bearing stone and mud, and more recently block work construction. This massive construction attracts huge earthquake loads and was responsible for many deaths during the earthquakes. The lightweight system we have introduced is 40 years ahead of current earthquake design technology in Nepal. The schools we have built are framed in light gauge steel and clad in lightweight materials resulting in a very light building which attracts low earthquake loads. The use of modern materials made in factory controlled conditions results in a building structure of known and reliable strength. The erection time is dramatically shorter than traditional techniques as there are less 'materials' to assemble on site. Assembly consist of joining each piece of framing with two screws.

  • Unlike standard government schools the HASSELL Team have introduced contemporary thinking around design for improved education. These include: - Larger windows for deeper daylight penetration - Lower window cills to allow the children to see green space outside - Large overhangs for gathering outside the classroom - Well insulated for student comfort - Acoustically tuned for voice clarity

  • The system relies on light weight cold rolled galvanized steel stud and truss construction. It is insulated and clad inside and out with light weight panelised materials. Inside is robust plywood, outside can be either locally sourced sustainable yield timber, corrugated zincalume or compressed fiber cement, the choice will be up to the local community. The local community will also be involved with laying the traditional low height stone walls around the base of the buildings. These stone walls serve to hold the light weight schools down in high wind conditions. The height of the walls are designed so they represent no risk to safety in an earthquake. This is an important consideration because we do not need to rely on the quality of the tradesmanship when laying the walls. An important final touch is the installation roof barge boards which will be designed and crafted by the local community. This decoration is a typical feature of Nepalese vernacular architecture.

  • Not only does the modular design lend itself to standard government schoolrooms they have also attracted the attention of other groups seeking to supply earthquake resistant buildings to Nepal. HASSELL and TTW willingly give away their design, for example architects Sans Frontiers are looking to use the design for wider application.

    The project has been a successful collaboration between TTW (Engineers), HASSELL (Architectural Design) and Davenport and Campbell. Davenport and Campbell have provided master plan services for the schools. David Francis architect has also generously contributed to the project through guiding the construction locally. All four teams have worked pro bono to deliver culturally sensitive safe classroom technically advanced, safe classrooms to the local communities. The important aspect of the master plans is they sensitively replace the destroyed classrooms and reinforce a vibrant sense of community.