EAA was established in 2012 with the aim to contribute to human, social and economic development through quality education and other initiatives. With a particular focus on areas affected by poverty, conflict and disaster, EAA champions the needs of children and targets hard-to-reach marginalised children; in particular children in poverty; those who face social or cultural barriers to education; and those in crisis and conflict-affected environments. By working with local partners and emphasising innovation, scale and sustainability, EAA aims to enable every child to fulfil her/his right to education.
With more than 70 million people displaced in their own countries or living as refugees, and half under the age of 18, EAA saw a critical need for a suitable infrastructure that could serve as classrooms, temporary housing, and medical centres for displaced children and their families. EAA Foundation teamed up with Zaha Hadid Architects to create a structure that offers safe, versatile and sustainable spaces for children to use for play, learning, and development.
Allowing for natural daylight, the weather-proof, multi-use modular tent structures can be easily moved and re-assembled, incorporating components that can also be upcycled or recycled, making them ideal for displaced populations.
The tents are constructed using an identical extruded aluminium arch structure as its primary member that allows for longer spans, interior flexibility and ensures the fabrication process is faster, cheaper and manageable. A standard ground fixing component enables the structure to be easily installed, while the durable fabric membrane stretched between the arches enhances the stability of the entire structure. The geometry of the arched structure creates openings for natural light and ventilation.
The structure’s dimensions have been determined by one roof module being 11m x 4.5m which allows for a very flexible floorplan and enables the units to be extended through multiple bays. One room of two enclosed bays could be extended to include external play areas; or doubled to create a large community hall. The flexibility of this structural system enables programmatic changes to be easily implemented even after installation.
Grooves within the extruded aluminium sections allow the fabric membrane to be connected directly to the framework rather than needing additional bolts, while T-slots to allow walls/vertical panels/lighting to be hung directly from the framework without additional bracketry. This approach also allows for the replacement of individual wall panels by introducing a doorway or a translucent panel in place of an insulated wall to maximise flexibility of the space.
A low-emissivity PVC fabric with multi-foil insulation is used for both the outer and inner membranes to ensure heat is retained in the winter and reflected in the summer. The cavity between the skins minimises solar gain. For its strength, PVC the most lightweight and cost-effective material that enables simple on-site repairs if damaged. It is resistant to damage from rodents or insects and can be upcycled into second-life applications.
EAA Chairperson, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser said, “To place a tent in a displaced community can seem like a small achievement, but the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are interconnected and by improving access to education, health and basic shelter, we plant the seeds for greater opportunities to grow in the future.”
Education Above All’s CEO Fahad Al-Sulaiti said, “At EAA, we are committed to doing our part to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 4, and by donating these tents, we are acting now to help countless children in Yemen, Turkey, Syria and Pakistan o have access to quality and accessible education.”
Zaha Hadid Architects’ Project Architect Gerry Cruz said, “We have a like-minded partner in Education Above All who is committed to investing in innovative design for the better good of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. Together, we have developed a robust, cost-effective, and lightweight modular architectural system with fabric envelopes to build structures that can be adapted in many variations to meet the conditions and lives of displaced children and children on the move. We hope that these newly donated tents will bring safety, learning and play to thousands in Yemen, Syria, Turkey and Pakistan.”