NLÉ, the architecture and urban design firm led by kunlé adeyemi, has completed a set of classrooms and dormitories for a boarding school in tanzania. conceived as an immersive environment where students learn from nature, the ‘black rhino academy’ is situated on an undulating site surrounded by vegetation and wildlife. the masterplan for the campus is inspired by the region’s ancient civilizations where rings of small building units were connected by thorn bushes, thus forming protective belts around the villages.

NLE black rhino academy
all images courtesy of NLÉ

NLÉ’s masterplan sees the school program divided into three clusters: the ‘live island’, where comfortable dormitories with common lounge areas are oriented to face the rising sun; the ‘learn island’, which comprises classroom blocks and a school hall situated in a grid on the sloping landscape; and the ‘play island’, which will include a sports field located on the only flat part of the site. the clusters are interconnected by a pathway, which establishes a safe yet open environment protected from and yet within the wildlife.

NLE black rhino academy
the buildings are defined by their catenary arches

the buildings are defined by their catenary arches, which reference the site’s undulating topography. the brick arches combine the structural columns and stepped retaining walls within a continuous element that provides shelter and seating throughout the outdoor school hallways. the entire campus is connected by ramps that ensure access for those using wheelchairs. NLÉ has also designed the furniture found in each of the buildings, which was fabricated on site.

NLE black rhino academy
the ‘learn island’ comprises classroom blocks

NLE black rhino academy
NLÉ designed the furniture found in each of the buildings

NLE black rhino academy
the brick arches combine the structural columns and stepped retaining walls within a continuous element

NLE black rhino academy
the arches reference the site’s undulating topography

NLE black rhino academy
the entire campus is connected by ramps

NLE black rhino academy
windows ensure that the dormitories are naturally illuminated

NLE black rhino academy
comfortable sleeping accommodation is oriented to face the rising sun

NLE black rhino academy
the masterplan sees the school program divided into three clusters

project info:

client: black rhino academy foundation
program: primary & secondary school campus

status: phase I completed (2018)
size: 7 ha
team: kunlé adeyemi, farooq adenugba, marco cestarolli, bethan nelson, laura rokaite, berend strijland

landscape architect: inside outside

local architect: spacious architects partners

structural engineer: bezzallel + sam lld.

MEP engineer: alpha crown electrics ltd.

cost consultant: cost benchmark arusha

philip stevens I designboom

sep 22, 2018