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TABULA RASA A Field School in Africa

Descriptive Narrative:

This project is a proposal for an African field school


Form and Spatial Narrative:

This design is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The intent of the design is to create a safe and secure area with a series of enclosed concentric spaces containing: a school, sanitation system, water well, 2 stage filtration system, storage tanks, and a village laundry and shower.


This building is composed of the following features:

This school is each designed for a village of 100 individuals.

Local materials and methods are used to provide jobs for the residents.

They are to be are to be built using post and beam bamboo construction with mud brick infill with a foundation of gravel concrete with field stones.

Bamboo poles for lateral support are placed on the outside of the mud brick walls to allow for visual inspection for termite damage.

Included in the design are: a water depot, slow sand filters, solar disinfection racks, a spherical cistern, a masonry biomass septic system, gravity feed toilets and showers, a solar powered submersible pump and solar powered lights.

Most rural Africans live on the edge of desperate poverty with their wealth in their livestock. Enough water is provided to double the number of livestock to give some measure of economic security.

At any time there is enough water in the system to provide emergency water for 30+ days.

Water that has been solar disinfected is not to be used for livestock as excess saline can be fatal to animals.

Protection from animals is provided by a living fence composed of a chain link fence between two rows of African Myrrh trees.

A laundry area and village shower are provided to reduce the large number of fatalities from animals from using surface water for laundry and bathing.

The living fence and the spherical cistern are two elements of the design that can be adopted to the individual households in the village.


Considered but not used:

Collecting rainwater off of the roof is not possible due to the large amounts of cyanide in bamboo.

Wind turbines: a relatively small stationary moving object that emits ultrasounds would mimic the behavior and sound of a wounded animal. This would likely prove problematic in the predator rich environment of the Serengeti of Africa.

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Water Calculations:

15 huts per village per village

2 parents 4 children per family

6 * 15 = 90 rounded up to 100 individuals

100 liters of water per day 100 * 100 = 10000 liters

.3 livestock (dairy cow) per individual = 30 cows * 115 liters = 3450 liters

1 solid and 4 liquid waste per day per individual 1.5 liters per flush = 7.5 liters * 100 = 750 liters total


Total Requirement:

10000 + 3450 + 750 = 14200 liters total water usage


Total Proposed:

3450 liters for proposed doubling of livestock = 17650 total proposed water usage


Total Provided:

Average well depth of 20-25 meters

Solar powered submersible pump with a flow rate of 113 liters per minute

113 * 4 hours of sunlight per day = 27120 liters of water

9470 liters of excess water


Additional:

9470 / 100 + 7.5 + (.6*115) = An additional 53 individuals + livestock is the maximum capacity from this well

At any time there are 30000 liters in the slow sand filters, storage and distribution tanks with an additional 10000 liters in the storage and distribution tanks in the sanitation system. This would give an emergency supply of water for drinking and sanitation for 100 individuals at 10 liters per day for 30 +days.

There are 3600 liters of water in each of the spherical cisterns for livestock. .6 * 6 = 3.6 livestock per household. This would provide an emergency supply of water of 30 liters per day per head of livestock for 30 + days.


Electricity Calculations:

Submersible pump 120v for 80-155 ft. of head

1000 watts per hour for 4 hours = 4000 watts

(36) 15 watt lumen pendant solar lights = 540 watts for 6 hours per day = 3300 watt hours per day


Total Requirement:

3300 watts + 4000 watts = 7300 watts per day

Total Provided:

(17) 80-100 watt solar panels

(18) 24 volt deep cycle gel type backup batteries

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