A new project in Madagascar is using 3D printing to create new schools. Non-profit organisation Thinking Huts has partnered with architectural design agency Studio Mortazavi to create the world's first 3D-printed school on the campus of a university in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar. It is aiming to tackle the shortage of educational infrastructure which in many countries contributes to fewer children getting a good education.
Thinking Huts considered seven countries for their first 3D printed school. Madagascar will be the pilot's location based upon the need for education infrastructure, stable political outlook in an emerging economy, opportunity for growth, as well as renewable energy potential. For further information see the IDTechEx report on 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 2020-2030: COVID Edition.
Using technology developed by Finnish company Hyperion Robotics, the school will be built using 3D printed walls and locally-sourced materials for the doors, roof and windows. Members of the local community will then be taught how to replicate the process to build schools for the future. In this way, a new school can be built in under a week, and with less of an environmental cost than traditional concrete-based construction. The 3D printed buildings use less concrete than other methods and the 3D cement mixture also emits less carbon dioxide compared to traditional concrete, Thinking Huts claims.
The design allows for individual pods to be joined together in a beehive-like structure, and means schools can be easily expanded. The Madagascan pilot project also features vertical farms in the walls, and solar panels.
An absence of buildings to deliver education from is a significant hurdle in many countries, particularly in areas lacking skilled labour and resources for building. By using the technology to build schools, Thinking Huts is seeking to widen access to education - something which will become particularly important post-pandemic. UNICEF and other organisations have warned of a learning crisis exacerbated by the virus, with 1.6 billion children across the world at danger of falling behind because of school closures aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19. So, getting children back in the classroom as soon as is safely possible will be vital to continuing their education, particularly for those with limited access to the internet and personal learning devices.
Sources: World Economic Forum, Thinking Huts