Designers and builders – some exciting news: the design/build dream team Miriam Gee and Luke W. Perry just returned from Guatemala, scouting the site for the next Build Lightly Workshop slated for January 2017. We are inspired not only by the majestic lakes and dramatic volcanic activity, but also by the warm and friendly people at CEDIN School – the teachers, musicians, and students who will ultimately be the users of the next Build Lightly project! In sum:

for Guatemala 2017 – the sky’s the limit for this Build Lightly Team!

[More details on the Build Lightly Guatemala 2017 Workshop under ‘Projects‘.]

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Luke and Miriam approached LEAF Community Arts for an international partnership after the wild success of the U-LEAF, the AVL DesignBuild Studio’s 2015 project. Build Lightly headed to Guatemala with Development Director Adam Bowers to film interviews and measure the existing two-story concrete and CMU block building. Along with the kids, we participated in workshops conducted by LEAF Schools & Streets Teaching Artist, Erinn Hartley. Directors/head music instructors Sara and Silvia from the CEDIN School Music Program even prepared a welcome lunch for the whole group and a music performance in the courtyard. The students performed mandolin, guitars, drums, upright bass, recorders/flutes and – of course – marimba!

Some of the program needs that were recognized through the interviews and brainstorming workshops included:

  • 5-10 year master plan that can host a total of 120 music students at once
  • a new music classroom with sound attenuation for 10-20 students on the second level
  • absorptive materials for acoustic control in existing music classroom
  • interior partitions to help with scheduling and program separation in shared and multi-use spaces on ground level
  • more extense roof covering over existing courtyard and exterior stair to second level
  • storage for marimbas and other music equipment on ground level
  • programming must accommodate two user groups: ages 4-6 (day) and ages 9-19 (afternoon)

A few other key design/build considerations about El Tejar:

  • El Tejar has two seasons, summer and the rainy (May through October) season, it’s a temperate and humid climate
  • typical construction in Chimaltenango includes concrete columns and beams cast in place, with CMU block infill
  • typical wall finishes included plaster/stucco, ceramic or brick tile floors
  • bricks, CMU block, and roof tiles are manufactured locally
  • corrugated metal roof and limited carpentry are also used
  • volunteers within the CEDIN school community include brick-layers and masons
  • alternative materials such as plastic bottles and glass bottles are prevalent

The team also took some time to explore historic Antigua and took a one-day trip to the volcanoes and vistas at Lake Atitlan. Group bonding was definitely underway. Overall, the team is excited to announce our newest partnership with LEAF International and the first Build Lightly workshop hosted in Guatemala! As you can see, there are several opportunities for design interventions to improve the existing build environment to better serve it’s community.

So, designers and builders, mark your calendars for Antigua, Guatemala in January 2017, and stay tuned for more information! If you’d like to be kept up to date on all things Guatemala (finalization of the program, workshop details, application process, dates, and fees) just email info[at]buildlightly[dot]com and we’ll get in touch pronto! It’s gonna be a fun one, guys…

Muchisimas Gracias a LEAF Community Arts/LEAF International, PEG Partners, Fundit, Childaid, and CEDIN School.

Hasta luego, y abrazos,

Lucas y Miriam – the Build Lightly Guatemala Dream Team.

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