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“Classroom of the Future” Finalists Are Cool Enough for School

Architecture for Humanity has just announced finalists in a competition to design classrooms in the developing world and beyond.

Open Architecture Challenge

Once every two years, Architecture for Humanity issues an “Open Architecture Challenge” and invites anyone to solve it. They’ve just announced the eight finalists in their latest competition, to design the “classroom of the future.” It’s a very select group, but the competition managed to draw over 500 entries, with locations in 65 countries. The grand prize, which will be judged by a group that includes Dave Eggers and Michelle Kaufmann, will provide the winner with $5,000 and the school with $50,000 to realize the design.

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The research that went into all of the finalists is pretty impressive. Gensler, for example, surveyed educators about their needs before proposing the “Blurred Classroom,” a fluid, easily adjustable series of classroom spaces; a similar ethos of reconfigurability runs through Built Form Architecture’s idea of a creating a rural schoolhouse “kit” that can readily be reformatted to different needs.

But it’s no surprise that most impressive solve highly specific, local challenges. For example, the Cohesion Foundation tackled a problem on the salt flats of India. Kids don’t attend school regularly, because they have to go to harvest salt with their parents for eight months out of the year. So the designers created a system of temporary classrooms, pictured above and below, that could be recreated every year using the actual salt bed itself:

Open Architecture Challenge

Meanwhile, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Architecture for Humanity’s U.K. branch point out that in one area of Rwanda, the hilly landscape makes it difficult and expensive to create and expand the local classrooms. So they designed a system for building on the hillside, whose spaces can easily be reconfigured for multiple uses

Open Architecture Challenge
Open Architecture Challenge
Open Architecture Challenge

Check out the rest of the designs here.

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About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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