This is the story of an architect who, having traveled to a school in Zambia and seen the often limited conditions in which the primary schools operate there, decided to devote some of her spare time to fund-raising and designing affordable and sustainable schools and housing in Africa. Erinn McGurn’s side project has turned into her life mission. In 2006 she created SCALEAfrica to work on multiphased projects that include school renovation, improved sanitation, the design and construction of classrooms that use local labor and building materials, passive solar techniques and natural ventilation, as well as the provision of basic educational materials and furniture. To ensure community buy-in and respect for the local culture, Erinn works with governmental and tribal officials and the Ministry of Education. She has now left the architectural firm where she worked in New York on residential design to concentrate full time on SCALEAfrica, which is funded entirely by private donations. Erinn’s stated aim is to devise a scalable, sustainable design model that can be replicated in various places.
SCALEAfrica is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that, in its own words, is “dedicated to the improvement of rural schools in sub-Saharan Africa through the use of sustainable building techniques and active community participation. The model of sustainable design is intended to allow communities to build in ways that can be supported and maintained by their existing resources, with a focus on improving public health and education. SCALEAfrica aims to meld principles of sustainability with practical and cost effective local solutions.” Do consider a donation or other support so SCALEAfrica can keep up its tremendous work!