Nepal Rebuild Program

  • 2018

  • Social Impact

Designed By:

  • Taylor Thomson Whitting (TTW)
  • Ken McBryde
  • Sydney Architecture Studio
  • Davenport-Campbell David Francis (in collaboration) with the Australian Himalayan Foundation and Local Communities

Commissioned By:

Australian Himalayan Foundation

Designed In:


When 2015 earthquakes devastated Nepal, over 200 of the 350 schools supported by the Australian Himalayan Foundation were destroyed. In lieu of donating money; TTW collaborated with architect Ken McBryde and Davenport Campbell (masterplan), donating their professional skills to design a sustainable earthquake-resilient school resulting in positive social impact.

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  • In the aftermath of the earthquakes, it was evident that many deaths were caused by poor construction and lack of design for seismic resilience. The team needed to create new classrooms that would be earthquake-resistant and secure stakeholder buy-in for a new construction approach. Other objectives were to transfer new skills to local workers and build capacity within the local community, for safe learning spaces. The designs needed to embrace sustainability, incorporate contemporary design principles for improved educational outcomes, and cater to the needs of children and communities in remote areas with restricted access and limited resources.

  • To date 20 classrooms across 5 schools have been successfully rebuilt, providing children and teachers with a safe learning environment into the future. One of the few schools in Nepal for special-needs children, Garma was the first to open in 2017 with five new earthquake-resistant classrooms – providing physical and emotional security for children traumatized during the earthquakes, and delivering new accessibility benefits. With a focus on transportability and ease of assembly, the new schools adopt the scale and local vernacular architectural style of surrounding traditional villages – contributing to the village setting, and creating a learning environment that engages school children.

  • In addition to earthquake-resistance, the new structures embody passive environmental design principles, minimising the operational and maintenance costs, and are oriented to capture the prevailing breezes and maximise access to natural light. The classrooms are designed to be open and flexible enough to allow for multiple teaching layouts, including COLA (Covered Outdoor Learning Areas). In a region that faces extreme temperatures, heavy monsoonal downpours and snow, these buildings employ design principles improving levels of functionality and comfort. Transfer of new skills and creation of apprenticeships are building capacity within the community and adding more sustainable outcomes for the local people.

  • “Help our Children See” was the Sherpa People’s response to Sir Edmund Hillary’s question as to how we can help the Nepal people. The tragedy of the 2015 earthquakes provided an opportunity to not only help these people recover, but to rebuild with solutions that improve wellbeing and provide safer environments for the future. The project success has depended on the collaborative efforts of an extensive team of architects, engineers, volunteers, planners, craftsmen, suppliers, NGOs and government representatives. In partnership with AHF and in-country partner, REED Nepal, the team has been on the ground – engaging with local communities and liaising with head teachers and staff at affected schools to ensure we were meeting their requirements. The result is a revolutionary world-first classroom structure that has become a sustainable model for delivery across the region. Offered free of charge to other aid agencies, the innovative design continues to be refined with the aim of having a broad and far-reaching impact across Nepal, and in similar countries where teams are looking to provide climatically suitable, culturally appropriate, low-cost design solutions for communities in need.