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Designing Resilient Schools


How can architecture help people in times of urgent need caused by natural disasters? In this course, we will design resilient schools that could serve as community centers and shelters for the victims of the devastating typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

  • 01 Mar. 2014
  • English
  • Architecture

About this course

Course Description

On November 9, 2013 the devastating typhoon Haiyan hit the Phillipines, causing more than 5,000 deaths and destroying the homes and cities for millions. Natural disasters are happening more and more often due to climate change. We can’t do much to stop them, but as architects we can help with the recovery and to build shelters that would withstand them.

The goal of this online course is to generate design ideas for resilient schools for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and other natural disasters. The participants in this course will design schools, which could be implemented by the Department of Education and Architecture for Humanity in the Philippines. We will engage with a team of architects, planners, engineers, and social workers. After the course, the projects and instructions will be placed on the open source platform Open Online Architecture (, so anyone can download and use them.

An international jury will select the best projects, which will eventually be built. We’ll have weekly lectures and daily discussions on our forum. A team of professors, consultants, and teaching assistants led by Prof. Ivan Shumkov will guide and assist all students in their work.

Course Schedule

Week 1, January 14: Welcome and Introduction
Week 2, January 21: Schools and Resilient Architecture
Week 3, January 28 : Classroom Unit Design
Week 4, February 7: Aggregation and Site Design
Week 5, February 14: Resilient School Design
Week 7, February 21: Design Submission and Feedback

Learning Outcomes

Students will learn about resilient architeture and how it can be used in communities in need. They will improve their design and collaboration skills. During the second week of the course, each student will design individual proposals and post them on the forum. All students will be publish their design proposals and ask others for feedback and help on their projects. They will form collaboration teams, which will work together on developing integral projects that include aspects of architectural design, engineering, social space, community development, economical feasibility, sustainability and resilience.


The involvement in the course is flexible. For architects, this is meant to be an intensive design studio course, so participants are expected to dedicate 10-20 hours a week. For others, who act as advisors and collaborators, it could take 2-5 hours of work weekly.

Course Format

The course will be organized similar to a competition for design ideas, but will encourage collaborations and teamwork. We will use peer-to-peer review as a way to exchange feedback. We will also have a course forum and team groups on Google+ where students will exchange and discuss design ideas. During the course, the projects will be developed to the phase of schematic design. At the end of the course, the 5-10 best proposals will be selected and further developed with the guidance of the course professor, consultants, and the local authorities. Some of the proposals will eventually be build if funding and local support are secured.

Prior Knowledge

Previous experience in design is recommended, but there will be opportunities for others to participate. The course work will be collaboration between people from many different backgrounds: design, engineering, economics, healthcare, social studies. They will share and exchange their knowledge, skills and energy to design solutions that are resilient, feasible, sustainable, buildable, etc.

Consultants and Advisors

Nestor Arabejos, Ecotektonika, Manila
Bea Camacho, Harvard GSD, Philippines
Xavier Vilalta, XVA Arquitectura, Barcelona

Final Jury

Kenneth Frampton, Columbia University, New York
Giancarlo Mazzanti, El Equipo de Mazzanti, Bogota
Illac Angelo Diaz, Architecture for Humanity, Manila
Ivan Shumkov, Open Online Academy, New York
Others TBD

Course Certification

After completing the course assignments, students will receive a letter of participation according to their role and degree of involvement: architect, designer, project manager, engineer, consultant, advisor, economist, communications, etc. Students who submit the final Resilient School project will be eligible for the official certificate of successful completion of the course.

Course Community

OOAc Facebook Page
DRS Facebook Group
Google+ Community
DRS_OOAc, World Map
OOAc LinkedIn Page
OOAc LinkedIn Group