Design Miami/ + Panerai Present Design Visionary Award Winner: The Mwabwindo School
Design Miami/ is pleased to announce the Mwabwindo School as the recipient of the 2017 Panerai Design Miami/ Visionary Award. In its fourth year, the annual award is sponsored by Officine Panerai and celebrates significant contributions to the field of design. For the first time in the award’s history, the recipient is a collaborative project, conceived by 14+ Foundation, New York; Selldorf Architects, New York; and artist Rashid Johnson, with the addition of newlycommissioned furniture by Christ & Gantenbein, Basel. Mwabwindo School, which will open in 2018 and serve primary school students in rural southern Zambia, will be the second school in the region developed and operated by 14+ Foundation, an organization committed to increasing education accessibility in rural African communities, where travel distance to school is one of the biggest impediments to quality education.
The school’s design by Selldorf Architects, New York, is inspired by the tall trees on the surrounding savanna that serve as shaded gathering spaces. The complex will comprise mud-brick classrooms for 200 students arranged around courtyards and covered by a large corrugated metal roof canopy, housing for eight teachers, a vegetable garden, and playing fields. Handmade bricks have been fabricated on site and buildings will be constructed by local masons, providing employment and training opportunities. Rainwater will be collected for use in the garden, solar panels will provide energy for the school and teachers’ housing, and a windmill will power the facility’s well water. The design will also incorporate a mural installation to be created on-site by contemporary artist Rashid Johnson in collaboration with Mwabwindo School students, emphasizing the importance of art-based educational projects and programs.
Design Miami/ has asked the Basel-based architecture and design firm Christ & Gantenbein to contribute to the project by providing children’s furniture to outfit the school’s art classroom. The Mwabwindo Series is an adaptation of Christ & Gantenbein’s Athens series which was inspired by a modest wooden chopping block the designers happened upon in an Athens market. Based on a simple vernacular object, the stools and tables in this set are made of wooden blocks held together by long cylindrical wooden pegs, without the use of hardware or glue.
Prototypes of the Mwabwindo Series have been installed at Design Miami/ in an exhibition dedicated to the school that will include models of the building, details of the construction and information about the student body. The Mwabwindo School embraces the spirit of the Panerai Design Miami/ Visionary Award perhaps more uniquely than any other project in the award’s history, offering continued, tangible, and lasting impact to build community through design. The collaborators, all of whom are donating their services to the project, are committed to the cause of providing not only an inspired place for learning, but also promoting sustainable resource use, arts education, and community building through design.