Most students who study architecture probably don’t expect to find themselves wielding angle grinders and digging footings on building sites. But this year, a group of undergraduate architecture students travelled to Vanuatu to build a school for the people of Ohlen Freswind, a community squatting on the outskirts of the capital, Port Vila.
With support from University donors, students have designed the community’s first school and started building the foundations.
“It was hard work and the students really got stuck in,” says Michael Muir, senior lecturer and director of the Bachelor of Design in Architecture.“We couldn’t have done any of this without crowdfunding,” says Muir.
“The community put a lot of emphasis on the need for a school because there are none nearby,” says Muir. “At the moment, a lot of the kids don’t go to school at all.”
“As design students, a lot of our projects are unbuilt and unrealised. It was fantastic to start to understand the construction side of building,” says Rachel Liang, architecture student.
There is more to be done. Further donations will be needed to send a new group of students to complete the building. Muir hopes that eventually they will be able to add more classrooms. “We could even do a playground,” he says. “That would be a really good student project. We could keep building and keep working closely with the community.”
This year, a new group travelled to Vanuatu to start building. They dug footings, made steel cages for the slab, mixed and poured concrete and built low walls.
All donations raised will go directly to making the school building a reality for the people of Ohlen Freswind.
This project has received funding from the New Colombo Plan 2019.
All donations $2 and above are tax deductible.