METI Handmade School
This Modern Education and Training Institute (METI) school in Rudrapur, Bangladesh, was designed by architect Anna Henringer and constructed using local materials (such as clay and bamboo) and local labor.
The METI Handmade School designed by Anna Heringer for the Dipshikha Society for Village Development is a sustainable design for a building made entirely with local materials, technology and labour. It employed only locals over the 6 months it took to be built. It is made out of bamboo, mud, straw, bricks, and other locally sourced materials. Measuring 325 square meters, it has 3 classrooms on the ground floor, two divisable classrooms on the upper floor, and 6 “caves” where children can read or relax. The design won the 2007 Aga Khan Award for Architecture and the 2006 AR Emerging Architecture award.
*Please note that building designs are being included as “products” in the Habitat Sector of the Solutions Library to allow readers to learn from how projects were designed and constructed and how they are serving the occupants, whether effective or ineffective.
The project had a budget of ~41,080 USD (35,000 EUR)Converted on August 2021.
Cited in a report, the clients noted that replication of the project may be difficult due to a lack of equipment, resources, and labor. Therefore, competing designs include locally-sourced projects or building techniques that emphasize easy replicability, such as Good Earth Global Earthbag Construction.
Target users include the village’s 168 school students. The target implementer includes the Dipshikha NGO who uses the building for its METI project and was interested in the transfer of building technology to the local workers.
The foundation is laid down using bricks with concrete with a damp proof course. The floor beams are made with three layers of bamboo post, protruding by a meter in a balustrade. The walls are made of packed mud mixed with straw. The structure is made from more bamboo stalks, fastened together using nylon ropes and steel dowel pins. The roof is made from iron coated with zinc.
Building designs generally fall under architectural copyright.
The METI Handmade School is a unique building design.
Indication of whether design can be replicated in multiple locations
Number of individuals. 1 family = 5 persons.
Number of days from start of construction to completion
Surface area of footprint
Number of occupiable floors (ground floor only = 1)
Primary materials used
Composite estimated R-value
As calculated by designer
As calculated by designer
Based upon primary structural system as per the International Building Code
Based upon Structural Occupancy Category and soil conditions of site; as per the International Building Code
List of suitable climates for use of this design
The materials used for the construction are bricks for the foundation, mud mixed with straw for the walls, bamboo for the structure and framework, timber for the window frames, and a bamboo ceiling covered with corrugated iron for the roof.
The foundation consists of a brick masonry foundation that is 50 cm deep.
The ground floor consists of three classrooms that have thick earth walls. At the back of each classroom is an opening that connects to an organic “cave system” that is designed to encourage the children to explore or concentrate. The ceiling is made out of three layers of bamboo canes that are arranged perpendicularly to each other. This arrangement is designed to add lateral stability to the supporting beams.
The upper floor features a bamboo structure that contrasts with the earthen ground floor. This floor is designed to be lighter and more open, and provides views to the outside.
The building can be maintained by a worker with general construction experience.
To repair a mud wall, it is possible to wet the broken piece and place it back. Bamboo pieces can be replaced individually.
Its full lifespan is not known, but as of 2017 it has endured over 11 rainy seasons.
The building is designed to be sustainable, comfortable and functional for occupants. The school’s use of improving construction techniques with combinations of local materials is designed to reflect the client’s desire to encourage children’s’ creative development.
The structural engineering and earth building consultation was provided by Christof Ziegert of ZRS Architects and engineers in Berlin Germany.
It is assumed that Ziegert Roswag Seiler (ZRS) Architekten Ingenieure in Berlin conducted structural and earth tests as part of their consultant role. The office has a laboratory for research and testing.
Day-laborers working on the construction are subjected to the risks it entails; heights, heavy objects, tools, among others. Builders should also wear appropriate protective equipment such as hardhats and gloves while working to protect against physical injury commonly associated with heavy construction.
Since access to electricity is limited, a complementary technical system could be an off-grid energy source.
Schwartz, Chad. 2016. Introducing Architectural Tectonics: Exploring the Intersection of Design and Construction. Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Ashraf, KK., 2007, This is not a building! Handmaking a school in a Bangladeshi village. Architectural Design, 77(6), pp. 114-117.
Afroz, Rumana, and Mohammad Zakaria Ibne Razzaque, 2012, “Ecological Architecture with Vernacular Character: Contemporary Mud Architecture Practices in Bangladesh.” Nakhara : Journal of Environmental Design and Planning, 8, pp. 33–48.
Alam, M. M. Lekhon, 2018, “A Critical Analysis of Bengali Modern and Traditional Architecture Using the ‘Deep Beauty’ Framework.” Thesis, Kansas State University.
Hoteit, Aida, 2016, “Architectural Education in the Arab World and Its Role in Facing the Contemporary Local and Regional Challenges” Canadian Social Science, 12(7), pp. 1–7.
The design won the 2007 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, given to projects that demonstrate excellence in architecture and planning practices.
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