Most Influential Projects 2021

48 Thinking Hut v1.0

Architecture | Sub-Saharan Africa
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For trying to end educational inequalities with a school that can be built in under a week

The pandemic brought an astounding digital transformation in the education sector. Yet more than 30 percent of children around the world are unable to access remote learning platforms, according to UNICEF. The lesson? The world needs more classrooms. To close the gap, Thinking Huts is proposing a new vision, unveiling plans earlier this year to create one of the world’s first 3D-printed schools.

Created in partnership with Hyperion Robotics and architecture firm Studio Mortazavi, the school—complete with all foundational, electrical and plumbing essentials—will be built in less than a week and with limited skilled labor.

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The pilot was initially scheduled to be completed in December on the campus of Ecole de Management et d’Innovation Technologique in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar. But the pandemic threw a wrench in that plan, and Thinking Huts must now close a US$180,000 funding gap for the project. Maggie Grout, who started the nonprofit six years ago when she was 15, has a plan to adapt.

To keep costs down, the team will locally source the 3D printing material, which also will reduce the project’s carbon footprint. And the design features a beehive configuration that allows for the attachment of multiple schools, with eco-friendly features like vertical farms and solar panels.

The team plans to iterate beyond the pilot project and even beyond Madagascar, envisioning an active exchange of ideas between multiple huts through an online portal. The ultimate goal: end educational disparities and make quality education more accessible through creative thinking.

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"Education is at the root of tackling many problems the world faces today, such as inequality, health epidemics and economic growth," Grout says. "To cross the frontier, we must embrace innovation."