Nepal Rebuild Program


The 2015 earthquakes in Nepal destroyed 200 of the 350 schools supported by the Australian Himalayan Foundation. In response, TTW collaborated with architect Ken McBryde and Davenport Campbell (masterplan) to design a lightweight earthquake-resistant pre-fabricated system that could be easily constructed and transportable by foot to the remote locations.

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  • In addition to being earthquake-resistant, the new classroom designs needed to be an efficient and low-cost outcome with components that could be easily carried to remote sites on the backs of volunteers. Additional challenges surrounded government approvals – in a country currently swamped by the effects of a natural disaster, and with little or no experience in new design technologies and construction methods. Communicating the architectural vision meant overcoming language barriers and teaching new skills for local communities and workers to erect structures much different to the traditional mud and stone school buildings that had huge earthquake loads.

  • The new system is 40 years ahead of current earthquake design technology in Nepal. Schools are framed in light-gauge steel and clad in lightweight materials, forming a building that attracts low earthquake loads. Modern materials made in factory-controlled conditions deliver a structure of known and reliable strength. Using prefabricated materials and a ‘meccano set’ operation, construction time is dramatically shorter and simpler – assembly consists of joining each piece of framing with only a few screws. The masterplan has located new classrooms to take advantage of prevailing winds and natural light, enable water harvesting and effectively deal with the steep terrain.

  • The community now has the benefit of earthquake-resistant classrooms designed to be open and flexible enough to allow for multiple teaching layouts. The classrooms embody passive environmental design principles, which minimise the operational and maintenance cost, and are oriented to capture the prevailing breezes and maximize access to natural light. The program has created apprenticeships and taught new skills to local communities. This skills transfer met the design team’s other agenda to build capacity within the community and independence from aid. New classrooms also have the potential to provide emergency shelter for the local village in future earthquakes.

  • This program has responded to the needs of a community that was devastated by natural disaster. The design and reconstruction of schools has brought together children, teachers and parents – with a masterplan that not only addresses earthquake requirements, but provides classrooms designed to support educational objectives. The school also acts as an anchor due to its physical location in the middle of the community. New classrooms adopt the scale and local vernacular architectural style of surrounding Sherpa villages – contributing to the village setting, and creating a learning environment that engages school children. In contrast to standard government schools, the team have embraced contemporary thinking around design for improved educational outcomes, incorporating: - Larger windows for deeper daylight penetration - Lower windowsills to allow children to see green space outside - Large overhangs for gathering outside the classroom - Well-insulated for student comfort - Acoustically-tuned for voice clarity Garma Secondary School is one of the few schools in Nepal that support special needs children. Their new classrooms have provided physical and emotional security for children traumatized during the earthquakes, and the masterplan has ensured provision for sight-impaired students to move between classrooms with ease – something with which they previously struggled.