With Support From U.Va., Construction Begins on New School in Uganda

October 22, 2008
October 23, 2008 — To the beat of native drums, Building Tomorrow and the village of Gita, Uganda, celebrated the Oct. 14 groundbreaking of the Building Tomorrow Academy of Gita.

Supported by the University of Virginia, the academy will provide the first-ever permanent public school structure within about a nine-mile radius. It will open by mid-2009 and serving approximately 325 children.

U.Va.'s student chapter of Building Tomorrow — an international non-profit organization empowering young people to raise funds and awareness to benefit vulnerable children in sub-Saharan Africa — provided the financial backing for the 2,800-square-foot building.

The design came from 15 U.Va. architecture students in Studio reCOVER, an initiative that focuses on research, design and fabrication of humanitarian designs that are shared with the general public, disaster relief agencies and those in need of assistance, with an ultimate goal of designing and building safe, healthy and sustainable communities around the world.

The construction of the Building Tomorrow Academy of Gita marks the first time in the national organization's history that a cross-disciplinary team from the same campus provided both funding and the construction design for a project.

"We have come to this place to partner with you," Building Tomorrow country director Joseph Kalisa said to scores of community members at the groundbreaking. "And now we look to you to provide the hands and feet needed to make this new place of learning a reality."

Anselmo Canfora, a U.Va. assistant professor of architecture and the director of recover, said he shared the excitement of Gita's children, parents and grandparents. "I would like to acknowledge all of the hard work and dedication of the Initiative reCOVER architecture students who worked in collaboration with School of Engineering and Applied Science faculty and students, Arup Partners and Building Tomorrow."

Consistent with Building Tomorrow's cost-sharing model, members of the Gita community will provide more than 25,000 hours of donated labor to build the new academy, located approximately 18 miles from the Kampala city center.

Today, Building Tomorrow provides classroom space for more than 1,000 children and will more than double that by the end of 2009 with the construction and opening of at least four new Building Tomorrow Academies.

For information about Initiative reCOVER, visit www.studiorecover.virginia.edu.