Active School

Active School is a transformative low-cost school design that innovates local construction methods and suits the socio-cultural fabric of rural communities.


The Situation: On October 15, 2013, the largely rural region of Visayas, Philippines was devastated by back-to back catastrophes — the 7.2 magnitude earthquake immediately followed by super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Among hundreds of lives lost, 300,000 displaced and $170M damage to buildings, 1,134 classrooms were destroyed : leaving 15,000 children in make-shift classrooms a year after the disasters. 


The Project: We have partnered with the St. Vincent Institute in the town of Maribojoc, Bohol, which was completely destroyed and remains without funding to rebuild. WE WILL BUILD OUR PROTOTYPE CLASSROOMS on their school site, which they will use for formal classes during the day, and by the community for vocational and disaster-preparedness programs after-hours.


The Classrooms: The prototype is the implementation of Aya Maceda’s design-research project from Columbia University GSAPP’s Goodman Fellowship. The design RE-DEFINES THE BASIC UNIT OF THE CLASSROOM as a place of learning for both formal and vocational education and a venue for community development.

The framework draws from the notion of traditional Filipino “verandah” [open living spaces]. Classrooms are bright and open-air. Each elevated FORMAL learning space extends to a lower INFORMAL free space. The structures combine local craftsmanship with modern engineering for maximum resiliency. The goal is to empower locals to maintain and repair the structure with their inherent building knowhow + innovate cottage industries [thus revitalizing the local economic ecosystem] while promoting sustainability.


What started as an exploration of the classroom unit has become a framework for a network of learning venues for formal and informal education. The classrooms are devices to develop new avenues for learning. With leadership our curriculum director, Pam Damarillo, ClassAct will work with our partner schools to ensure our flexible new learning spaces positively affect their pedagogy.

ClassAct’s after-hours vocational curriculum for youths and adults that is geared towards technology, entrepreneurship, and design will allow our students to take part in the global marketplace, thus strengthening community development and economic stability.

Each of our classrooms will be equipped with internet and Boardshare facilities to enable open-education workshops and to connect with other institutions around the globe, providing access to specialized education even from their remote locations.

Our network of local community activists will also use the alternative spaces to hold workshops for disaster preparedness and community building. Architecture can bring social and economic value to communities in need.


How it works [filling the gap]:

Each building exchange partnership / time-share consists of two elements:

  • The site will come from the beneficiary school or community in need
  • The building will be design and built by ClassAct with the community

= The beneficiary will use the school for FORMAL EDUCATION DURING REGULAR SCHOOL HOURS;

= ClassAct will develop INFORMAL PROGRAMS AFTER HOURS : vocational classes [focused on technology, design, and entrepreneurship] and other development programs with community leaders.