In order to reduce dependence on electricity, the building is designed to function using passive strategies. Large overhangs created by the trusses, provide shade and protect the building from the elements, prolonging the life of the exterior finishes and minimizing maintenance costs. High ceilings create natural air stratification allowing users on the ground to remain cool while hot air rises and is vented out. Along the east and west façade vertical jalousie windows use frosted glass, diffusing natural light, and louvers which allow for cross ventilation. All construction materials were produced within a two-town radius and the masonry blocks, used for the non-structural walls, were transported to the site by hand from a manufacturer less than half a mile away. The floor slab, columns and walls were constructed as thermal masses which capture heat during the day and release it at night ultimately providing a more comfortable space.
The Twifo Hemang Senior Technical High School, located in the rainforest of southern Ghana, serves students from all over the region, but lacks the funding corresponding to its growing population. The school felt that a dormitory would add value to the campus. The design uses locally sourced masonry blocks, gravel, cement, wood and louvered windows to blend materially with its surroundings, while at the same time being a prominent new feature serving faculty and students. The large overhang of the sloped trussed roof protects students who gather on the porch between classes from the hot sun, giving the building a unique function. The tall, narrow door and windows of the front facade lift the expansive roof and the trusses seem to float above the beams. Interior exposed trusses create a high-ceilinged space that embraces the column-free space of the open-floor plan. Floor-to-beam jalousie windows with frosted glass provide soft, diffused light and create privacy. The window configuration also allows users to open high and low windows on opposite sides of the room to bring cool air in one side and vent warm air out the other side. The simplicity of the design echoes the surrounding vernacular; the open plan fulfills the school’s need for functional space. The expressive trusses lift the roof and poetically provide an outlook towards the school’s brighter future.