From Earthquake to Stability: Maria Auxiliadora School

  • Building a Stable, Post-Quake Community Participatory design approaches helped unify and energize a Peru community during a recent school redevelopment. Image Credit: Chuck Olsen

  • Building a Stable, Post-Quake Community Participatory design approaches helped unify and energize a Peru community during a recent school redevelopment. Image Credit: Chuck Olsen

  • Building a Stable, Post-Quake Community Participatory design approaches helped unify and energize a Peru community during a recent school redevelopment. Image Credit: Chuck Olsen

  • Building a Stable, Post-Quake Community Participatory design approaches helped unify and energize a Peru community during a recent school redevelopment. Image Credit: Chuck Olsen

  • Building a Stable, Post-Quake Community Participatory design approaches helped unify and energize a Peru community during a recent school redevelopment. Image Credit: Chuck Olsen

From Earthquake to Stability: Maria Auxiliadora School

Providing a safe structure and up-to-date learning environment were key priorities in rebuilding a Peru school taken out by a 2007 quake, but they weren’t the only ones.

The project was unusual in its inclusion of the entire community in the planning, participants said. Organizers were determined to spark enthusiasm, involvement, and ownership among community members as they rebuilt the Maria Auxiliadora School in Ica.  

“It was very important for the community to have a voice in the decision making,” said Diego Collazos, design fellow from Architecture for Humanity, a key partner in the project.

Collazos, who was immersed in the community throughout the design and construction of the school, said the project employed participatory design to include townspeople in creating the vision for the school.  Architecture for Humanity worked with the Happy Hearts Fund, which restores children’s educational opportunities in disaster-stricken areas, and the SURA Group of investors to complete the work.

One exercise in particular, in which students and parents placed green sticky notes on their favorite features around the building, “gave us a very descriptive feeling about how they feel about the school,” Collazos said.

Another conversation culminated with the community deciding to keep a large cross in place on the school grounds rather than remove it.

For their part, school families provided input and brought food and drinks to workers during design and construction, helping out wherever possible.

“It was positive and pleasant for us to be able to help somehow for the well-being of our children,” said Jessica, a parent at the school.

“We work together and our children are progressing every day,” said Doris Floria Rosas Hernandez, the school’s principal. 

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