New Course: “Designing Resilient Schools” in Support of Typhoon Victims in the Philippin

Less than a month ago, Typhoon Haiyan (also known as “Yolanda”) hit the Philippines with unprecedented force. The number of casualties has reached nearly 6,000. The survivors are still struggling to cope with the consequences of this disaster. In support of the victims of the typhoon and to gather aid professionals from all over the world, the Open Online Architecture ( and iversity will launch an online course about “Designing Resilient Schools”, starting on 7 January. You can enrol now and be a part of this project.

Rebuilding schools in the Philippines

4,500 schools were destroyed by the typhoon, so educational institutions are in high demand. School buildings need to be rebuilt in the first phase of the reconstruction process because they do not only serve as classrooms, but also as community centres and mass shelters when a typhoon strikes. The MOOC “Designing Resilient Schools” aims to crowdsource architectural designs for typhoon-resilient schools in the affected area. 

Some of iversity’s students already know Dr. Ivan Shumkov, who teaches in iversity’s course “Contemporary Architecture”, attracting more than 23,000 students. He will also conduct this course, supported by assistant professor Illac Diaz, the president of Architecture for Humanity in the Philippines. This non-profit organisation wants to use the potential of architecture and design to find solutions to global social and humanitarian crises. The best proposals submitted to the course will actually be built! Diaz will coordinate the on-site implementation of the project, and the Department of Education of the Philippines has also agreed to support putting the proposals into practice.

How will the course will be organised?

Online students – especially architects, engineers and other professionals – are requested to design concepts for school buildings that can resist heavy storms. First of all, the participants get a general introduction to disaster-resilient and sustainable architecture, school designs and the current situation in the Philippines through video lectures. After the presentation of the requirements and design guidelines, a team of professors, consultants and other specialists from Harvard Architectural and Urban Society_Alumni ( will guide the course participants. In the next step, teams and working groups will be formed around the best submissions to further elaborate on the design proposals, with constant feedback from their professors, local advisors from the Philippines and fellow students. A jury of international architects and local authorities will evaluate the submissions and choose the ones that hold the greatest potential.

A MOOC to find solutions for real-world problems

The Department of Education of the Philippines and the Architecture for Humanity chapter in Manila will put the best designs created throughout the course into practice. In addition, they will be published on the website Open Online Architecture ( and can be reused as open-source projects in other disaster areas. This way, the students’ designs of school buildings created in this MOOC project will also be valuable to future typhoons victims. 

We call upon of architects, engineers, planners and other aid professionals from all over the world to contribute their ingenuity to this MOOC and thereby actively help the communities in the Philippines afflicted by the typhoon. Together, we will find sustainable solutions for an offline, real-world problem in a truly global expert community. Who said there’s nothing you can do to make the world a better place? This is your chance!

If you want to be part of a global expert community to help the typhoon victims in the Philippines, you can enrol in “Designing Resilient Schools” now:

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