Historic Preservation

Posted October 26, 2017
  • Milembe Secondary School Science Labs, Misungwi District, Tanzania

  • Students near windows at Milembe Labs

  • Students inside Milembe Labs

  • Milembe Labs, view from the south

Professor of Practice Pamela Hawkes Wins AIA New England Region Honor Award

The Milembe Secondary School Science Labs project by Historic Preservation Professor of Practice Pamela W. Hawkes FAIA and Scott Teas AIA, principals of Scattergood Design in Portland, ME has won a 2017 Honor Award from AIA New England Region. The Labs are the first phase of a campus master plan developed by the design team on a pro bono basis in partnership with the American NGO Africa Schoolhouse and the District in 2013, to create the first public boarding school for girls in the region. Less than 4% of high-school-age girls in Tanzania complete secondary school, due to limited family resources, excessive domestic duties, early marriage and unsafe travel distances.  The current project helps Misungwi District, one of the poorest in the region and second to last academically, meet Tanzanian directives that all public secondary schools have science labs to promote training in science, technology and math.

Seven Honor Awards, six Merit Awards, and twelve Citation Awards were announced October 20 for the 2017 AIA (American Institute of Architects) New England Regional Design Awards. 275 entries were submitted for consideration. The Philadelphia-based jury included chair Sameer Kumar, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Enclosure Design at SHoP, New York and Lecturer in Architecture at PennDesign; Rashida Ng, Chair and Associate Professor in the Architecture Department at Temple University; and, Mark Sanderson AIA, Principal, DIGSAU, Philadelphia. 

The jury commented that the Milembe Labs project was:

"…first and foremost, a very handsome piece of architecture, skillfully assembled with respect for its immediate environment. A well-integrated use of passive systems and local materials help control the costs, both initial and recurring.  Above all, the social purpose of the project and the care that the design team brought to it is highly commended.  We would like to acknowledge the diversity in practice and the contexts in which we choose to build."

Located on gently sloping former farmland on the southern shores of Lake Victoria, the Milembe School site has no utilities and limited access to building materials and tools. Classroom designs maximized natural light, ventilation and shading to create optimal learning environments, while capitalizing on skills of Africa Schoolhouse construction crews.  Floor slabs, concrete block and wood trusses were formed on site, with a storage shed serving as a mockup to test details during the month that Hawkes and Teas spent on site with the crew in January 2015.

A louver/sash prototype made with fiberglass roofing panels was created by the design team to offer maximum ventilation and indirect light when open, rain protection and security when closed. Enhancing community impact, the operable shutters were built by a local furniture craft school at about half the cost of conventional aluminum windows imported from China, which prove difficult to maintain. When completed in 2016, two of the laboratories were furnished as classrooms, effectively doubling the number of spaces on a campus that serves 300 students in four grade levels and enabling buildings to evolve as the campus develops.