In a global perspective, around 90% of the world’s population cannot afford an architect, who is trained to design from behind his computer and prescribe mass-produced materials. The pre- industrialized concept of a master-builder might just come back. It reflects the idea of an integral approach to architecture, embedded in local context, local materials and local craftsmanship.
Through contemporary ways of sharing knowledge in between cultures, the master-builder becomes
a ‘common good’ of designing and building, both ‘on site’ and ‘through contemporary digital
media’. This ‘common good’ is materialized in the design studio ‘Future rural schools’, which tries
to explore this integrated approach.
The project site is located in Amskroud, Morocco. The project is part of a long-term program of the Goodplanet Foundation called “Bio-climatic Schools”. Within this program the foundation builds schools in rural environments based upon bio-climatic principles using local resources, knowledge and techniques. The Commune of Drarga (morocco) ordered the construction of 5 such schools in their region due to the success of the program in Morocco. The design of the school in Amskroud will be therefore developed as a prototype school and will function as an example for the development of the 4 other schools.

Laurens Bekemans, Catherine Mengé


The studio works with 2 key principles that are connected to sustainable research and design: ‘sense of place’ and ‘materiality’.

On one hand we focus on the sense of a place. We’ll try to understand and work with the specificity of the context. With this knowledge students develop a personal but site-anchored (spatial + socio-cultural) architectural project for the chosen site. Both in terms of functionality and materialization the project is celebrating the place.

On the other hand, we’ll look into the materiality and craftsmanship of architecture. Everything is embedded. The student is challenged to understand in a holistic way the site and develop affinities with local resources, construction techniques, bioclimatic principles and architectural typologies. These explorations will bring students closer to materials and their constructive features. Bridging the existing gap between architectural education and the craftsmanship of architecture.


The aim of the design studio is to develop a vision/masterplan on schools in rural contexts and a high-quality architectural project until executional level. The students will develop their designs as architectural strategies, giving the possibility to adapt their proposals easily to different topographies, different rural morphologies and technical necessities.

The final proposals of the design studio will function as the starting points of the elective “participation to an international project”. This elective will finalize the project into a buildable project to be constructed in Amskroud within the framework of VLIR-UOS scholarships and the program of the Goodplanet Foundation


An important exercise is the critical definition of the program which the student has te derive from the general program given by the Goodplanet Foundation. This re-interpretation is important …

… in relation to the function to accommodate (to learn to simplify and search for the essence)

… in relation to the contextual characteristics (to see the difference between the relevant and the redundant) (to understand how an area can give content to a program) (to learn how to seek for more value for the environment)

… in relation to the reality of sustainibility (to learn to assess the impact of any intervention)


Working method design studio:

  1. analyses of the context and culture

  2. critical understanding of the program

  3. vision and strategy set out in a masterplan for the larger context

  4. fieldwork mission and report (TBC) A fieldwork mission to the site is recommended during the research week from 1 to 5 April. The fieldwork mission supports the design and gives the possibility to develop specific knowledge more in depth. The student himself pays this mission.

  5. architecture project

Check the calendar here.

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