afgan-led school for girls
The School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) is an Afghan-led private boarding school for girls, the first of its kind in Afghanistan. SOLA's mission is to provide Afghan girls a rigorous education that promotes critical thinking, a sense of purpose, and respect for themselves and others. Along with Gensler, I had the privilege of working with SOLA – a first-of-its-kind Afghan-led private boarding school for girls – to design a permanent and secure campus that sets a new paradigm in Afghanistan for the education of its girls.
I spent Summer 2018 as an Interior Design Intern at Gensler, Boston. During these 12 weeks, I worked on several ongoing projects. Along with working on them, I along with 10 other interns worked on SOLA as a Summer intern project for 1 hour every thurday for 8 weeks. My role for the project was to work on spatial strategies for dorms and figure outlook and feel for the same.
To research and design for a permanent and secure campus that sets a new paradigm in Afghanistan for the education of its girls
To get insights, we decided to conduct a workshop remotely. We prepared a workshop kit and send it over to girls in Afghanistan. The kit included different sets of paper, pens, colors, and other stationery material for them to express their definition of home. We prepared a kit for the teachers to conduct the workshop so they can explain what needs to be done.
Remote workshop in Afghanistan
To design the secure campus we as a group decided to focus on finding the needs of girls that would help us understand their notion of home and school. I and my team of 4 were assigned to focus on space planning and activities. Due to the inability to reach the girls, I and the team decided to investigate what is the definition of home to these girls so we can understand and design accordingly.
“My favorite thing about my hometown is having the opportunity to do anything
I want. The opportunity to study, to walk, to dress up in the way that I want...”
“My favorite thing about my hometown is having the opportunity to do anything I
want. The opportunity to study, to walk, to dress-up in the way that I want… etc.
Unlike some of the provinces of Afghanistan, in my hometown, Kabul, I have the right to
study, to go to reuter, to go to school or university that most of the girls don’t have.
I can dress-up in the way which is my favorite.”
“A place to see the moon and
sky during the night.”
A DAY IN LIFE
Abida wakes up for her early morning prayer with other girls. She goes with the girls to the prayer room, which is adjacent to the dorm. They are back to their dorms by 6 am after the prayer.
Abida gets ready for the classes. She shares her wardrobe with her roommate. Abida loves her roommate as they have the understanding to share and live happily together.
Abida and her friends are back to the dorm from the classes. They had a tiring day. The girls are tucked in and sleeping peacefully in their beds.
As per tradition, Abida and her friends make a circle and do their homework. After doing the homework, Abida and her friends play games and enjoy themselves together in the dorm room.
After the long day, Abida and other girls are tired and prepares their bed. Abida packs her bag for tomorrows class and is off to bed.
The design of duality is inspired by a girl’s vision of the sharing of daily life. In dream catcher, they emphasize on wanting common area and especially learning from each other. The duality of privacy is defined as how girls experience privacy in their dorm space. The duality of activity is defined as how various activities can be integrated into a multipurpose space.
DUALITY experienced between
1 I 2 I 4 I 8 I 16 I 32 & other girls
The "Core" reflects a network of dorms that work as an organized, programmed whole, giving the campus feel to SOLA while providing a variety of paths and experiences that promote personal freedom. To satisfy the girls’ desires for multi-functional green space through which they can connect with nature, and provide these experiences in as many varieties as possible.
For the internal spatial experience, the design of duality is inspired by a girl’s vision of the sharing of daily life. In dream catcher, they emphasize on wanting common area and especially learning from each other. The duality of privacy is defined as how girls experience privacy in their dorm space. The duality of activity is defined as how various activities can be integrated into a multipurpose space.
Wall or partition
Floor or Bunk beds
Shared wardrobe and storage
The design of duality is inspired by a girl’s vision of the sharing of daily life. The look and feel of the dorm were designed with the intention of shared living which brings together a group of girls in the dorm. The look, feel and material palette for the school was based on two concepts -
Girls coming from different cities in Afghanistan bring different cultures and traditions along with them. Inspired by their culture and sense of belonging, we developed two concepts - Blank slate and close-knit. We choose monochromatic palettes which will work as a subtle background for girls to add their things to the pallet and create close-knit.
LOOK & FEEL
BLANK SLATE & CLOSE KNIT
ACCESS TO DORM
The heatmapping helped the team to analyze the accurate medium of shadows and extract data to check the intensity of the sun and heat in the open activity areas. The idea was to make sure the open areas are well shaded for girls to play and relax in the outdoors. The map also helped to understand the level of depth which could create sense of security for the girls.
USER SCENARIO / SPATIAL STRATEGY / SPATIAL RELATIONSHIP / SPACE PLANNING / LOOK AND FEEL
WHAT I LEARNED
User research and strategy for spatial experience: Apart from working on a group project for architecture projects for the first time, the project required to use of several user research methods to understand the context and perspective of young girls before diving into spatial design. User research enlightens us with some important insights that derived the entire concept design and final proposed solution to the client.