The Busajo Campus designed by StudioBenaim, located in southern Ethiopia, is aimed at rehabilitating and rebuilding the lives of local Ethiopian street children. The campus began as an educational project that was commissioned by a non-profit organisation. The spaces incorporated within the campus include areas for teaching, professional training and leisure activities.
Within the 33,500 square metre area of the structure, the buildings have various functions including workshop spaces, locker rooms and staff services alongside areas of the surrounding landscape which include vegetable gardens, a football field and a farm. The vegetable gardens highlight the principle of self-sufficiency that the campus promotes, with the children being heavily involved in the management of the gardens for educational and practical development.
The main aim of the project was to enhance the cultural aspect of the architecture to make it more familiar and comfortable for the children of the local community. The architectural language of the structure uses elements of buildings inspired by the Ethiopian suburbs, which includes details such as the materials and colours used in the architecture.
This method used by the architects during the design process ensures that the children have an embedded sense of belonging to the spaces offered on the campus.
The climatic conditions of the site lead to the need for protection from the heat of the sun as well as shelter from the rain. Therefore, StudioBenaim designed the façades of the building to have panels that shield the interior from the exterior. Grids of screens were also created that were structured to act as sunscreens. The overall form of the building also features some overhanging elements on the roofs and balconies which creates further shading to the façades that work as a passive cooling mechanism for the buildings of the campus.
The space protected by the panels of wood shields the building from bad weather and allows for certain activities to continue through every season. StudioBenaim has also regulated the rainwater from the roofs to be collected and be used for irrigation of the landscape and gardens. The campus also has a well, supplying drinking water for children within the campus as well as for people of the wider community.
The main buildings of the campus have an interior courtyard incorporated into the design in order to create communal spaces that are protected from the elements as well as from the external surroundings of the building. This allows for gatherings and events to take place in an effectively secluded yet spacious area. The children can also learn and play within the secure environment of the internal courtyards.
StudioBenaim designed the materiality of the buildings of this project to be naturally sourced. Local materials such as eucalyptus wood, from an Ethiopian tree, as well as a local stone, were used in the overall structure. These materials were utilised and applied from the construction phase for the scaffolding through to the flooring of the courtyards.
The eucalyptus wood was used to construct structures for the roof support elements as well as for the railings of the gallery spaces. The concrete flooring of the interior was of a natural earth-toned colour which was used throughout several features of the entire project.
StudioBenaim designed this whole project with care and precision, creating a thoughtful and successful campus that offers an interactive, natural and safe environment for the local children to learn, grow and thrive within.