The native community of Jerusalén de Miñaro is located in the district of Pangoa, in Peru’s central jungle. It is designated as a VRAEM zone, meaning its inhabitants are indigenous communities that were severely affected and displaced by the armed conflict of the 1990’s.
Although the school functioned for about 40 years and more than 200 students attended, the conditions were precarious at best. The infrastructure consisted of temporary classrooms and the spaces did not meet the minimum comfort requirements necessary for proper educational activities.
Process and construction
The purpose of the project was to create a “democratic space,” in which children, youth, and adults would be able to dream and plan their desired futures.
As such, we proposed an integrated methodology involving the cooperation of different national and international institutions, and directly involved the community in every phase of the project.
In the research phases of the project, we held workshops with students, parents, and teachers to determine the needs, dreams, and priorities for the future school.
The construction was carried out under the guidance of master builders and with direct participation from workers in the community. The involvement of local workers allowed for the exchange of knowledge through “in situ” work experience and training workshops held throughout the construction process.
The project proposed processes which promote the exchange of knowledge, the revaluing of human resources, and the use of local materials. Importantly, versatile spaces were proposed to be in line with new pedagogical methodologies.
The building is organized into 4 modules: 3 classrooms and 1 multipurpose space. In addition, two existing classrooms were repurposed as a residence for the teachers, and the toilets were renovated. The three classroom modules are located along the southern end of the lot with the longitudinal façade running north and south.
The existing trees and vegetation were integrated into the design. In the multipurpose room, a tree marks the main entrance for the school and forms part of the interior space. Along the north side, a line of trees runs along the façade to create indirect lighting and shade for the connecting corridors.
The children have taken ownership of the spacious covered patios, and created an imaginary world. They climb on the walls, hide in the wooden divisions, and use the windows as chairs. The covered corridors and continuous patios of the classrooms form circuits, or routes of play, which lead to Parquebambu. The park is a place for children to play and use their imagination, and was conceived of during a construction workshop with children from the community.
Materials and bioclimatic design
Another innovative strength of the Jerusalen de Minaro project is the architectural proposal which was carried out with a minimal budget but did not sacrifice the quality of the construction.
One strategy was to determine the best use for the available resources. Local materials were used and local knowledge was employed to create a bioclimatic design which still met all safety and construction regulations.
For the design, the proposal called for a main structure of concrete and wood and a roof of wood panels covered with asphalt tiles.
Ambient comfort is achieved using a “passive systems design,” with particular attention paid to controlling solar energy, ventilation, creating indirect sunlight, and the chimney effect.
The roof also has a rainwater collection system which stores water in elevated tanks.
In conclusion, the school in the native community of Jerusalen de Minaro proposes new, versatile, educational spaces which encourage creativity. The school, being a public space, has become a huge milestone for the community. It acts a social catalyst and provides many opportunities for all.