For the first time in the award’s history, the recipient – the Mwabwindo School – is a collaborative project, conceived by 14+ Foundation, New York; Selldorf Architects, New York and artist Rashid Johnson, with the addition of newly-commissioned furniture by Christ & Gantenbein, Basel. 14+ Foundation is a New York City-based nonprofit established by Joseph Mizzi and Nchimunya Wulf in 2012 to develop, build, and operate schools in rural African communities. The Mwabwindo School will be the second school in the region developed by 14+ Foundation. In its fourth year, the annual award is sponsored by Officine Panerai and celebrates significant contributions to the field of design.
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. The project will also involve providing the larger community of Mwabwindo Village with vital improvements to infrastructure and access to goods and services, including wells and water systems, increased access to medical services, recreational areas, and more.
The Basel-based architecture and design firm Christ & Gantenbein has developed the Mwabwindo Series of furniture for the Mwabwindo School, an adapted design narrative from a previous furniture project, the Athens Series. 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. The fabrication of the pieces relies on the training of local craftsman, who will mill the wooden elements on site and then assemble the furniture. Made from different types of locally sourced wood, the pieces will be used in the school’s library. A simple interlocking system allows the furniture to be arranged in different configurations, adapting to the various needs of the curriculum.
- Panerai Design Miami/ Visionary Award
- Mwabwindo School
- 14+ Foundation, Selldorf Architects and Rashid Johnson
- Christ & Gantenbein, Basel
- Officine Panerai