LOCATION: The Dominican Republic

STRUCTURAL SYSTEM: Wood framing, hand cut and lap jointed, and tension cables.

SPECIAL CONSTRUCTION: Lightweight, structurally insulated panels [at the time of this proposal, we anticipated the use of InnoVida panels, which rely on a proprietary system of assembly that emphasizes ease of construction].

BUILDING SKIN: Stress skin parachute nylon & bungee chords.


1. Translucent skin allows for natural day lighting.

2. Multiple openings, strategically placed to allow for natural ventilation.

3. Tapered black, monolithic solar chimneys facilitate air circulation through enhanced natural expulsion of hot air.  As the chimneys absorb heat, the air within them warms and rises. The tapered form capitalizes on the Venturi effect, gradually restricting the volume through which the hot air flows, increasing the rising air’s velocity, effectively creating a vacuum that draws cool air in through the buildings openings below.

4. Photovoltaic arrays doubling as main entry articulation.

5. Butterfly roof directs rainwater via ducts (or, gutters) [6] to roof cisterns [7] for gravity-fed water supply and below grade overflow tanks for additional storage.


Design a model school for children who are deaf or hearing impaired. The building should be considered a prototype that can be easily replicated and deployed in any third world country.

The classroom module[s], erected and organized according to square footage needs, site constraints, and environmental conditions, serve as the primary organizing element and are developed around a main axis and courtyards. The building relies primarily on passive environmental strategies, as the schools will be located in third world countries where survival off-grid is a mandate. We have developed the program to fit within a structural framework that could be easily fabricated and erected in areas where electricity and skilled labor are scarce. Materials are kept light so that they may be manipulated manually, without the use of or need for heavy machinery or mechanically driven tools.

The plan diagram is organized to accomplish two goals:

1.To achieve specific sound attenuation characteristics demanded by the program [90 degree and parallel walls are undesirable].

2.To maximize the amount of natural daylight exposure each classroom module has. By organizing the classroom modules as squares cut in half diagonally, and then orienting these modules at 45 degree angles to the main axis, we maximize square footage of the space and increase the amount of exposure to the translucent building skin by 20%, thus increasing the amount of natural daylight that the room receives. Because the skin is translucent, we get all the benefits of natural day lighting without the detrimental effects of heat gain and glare, while maintaining privacy. The 45 degree orientation of the classrooms to the main axis reduces audio transference and reverberation of external noise. We further reduce this unwanted transfer by building the modules and solar chimneys out of lightweight, structurally insulated panels, which absorb sound.


C Classroom O Office A Assembly D Dining Hall / kitchen P Pantry T Terrace E Main Entry L Loft