UWCEA Staff Houses & Labs
Sune Mushendwa/Alexis Cronin
United World College East Africa
The UWCEA Boarding House is a unique and iconic series of buildings which enhances the cultural experience for incoming international students through the school's newly accredited UWCEA program.
The project was to expand the school's existing campus facilities to include boarding housing, staff housing, an examination hall, science laboratories and a canteen. The project was divided into two phases with the first involving the housing of 40 students and 10 staff members. The second phase included 80 student dorms, 10 staff houses, a cafeteria/canteen area for 300 students, four science labs and an examination hall for 80 students.
The boarding house designs borrowed many of the local ‘Maasai boma – principles’, a circular enclosure of sleeping quarters which centred around a pavilion. In Maasai culture, the livestock (or animals) gather every night within the enclosure as a means of safe keeping. The herds enter into a central area, the coral, where they sleep while the masai sleep within the peripheral.
The centre of these traditional bomas would often position their enclosure near a tree for additional protection and shelter. In the case of this design, the pavilion became the point of shelter for students to congregate and interact in the evenings before returning to their quarters to sleep.
With simple and traditional building material and methods, the design responds to the design brief and ethos of UWC while lending to a unique structure, using local materials with a contemporary architectural language.