Cool School Winners Announced

How do you get to school if it’s minus 45 °C outside? How
do you gain an education when your nearest school is 20km
away? Witnessing this problem Building Trust international
launched an international design competition to challenge
designers and architects to provide a design solution which has
the chance to shape the future of school buildings across cold
regions globally.

I am thrilled to announce the winners of the Cool School Design competition:


WINNERS of the Cool School competition Kyle Wylde, Nathan Woodward, Stephen Hawkins and Charley Burrough from UK Architectural practice PLACE By Design.

A diverse and enthusiastic Urban Design and Architectural practice based in Bristol, UK have been announced as the winners in a design competition that hopes to provide a safe, comfortable, learning environment for 100 pupils, withstanding extreme temperatures in Mongolia. The competition had 475 registered entrants and a jury including representatives from Building Trust International, World Vision, UNICEF, The Mongolian Education Alliance, GIZ and most importantly the local Governor and school committee.

Building Trust international will be working closely with World Vision Mongolia and local partners to deliver the winning design during Summer 2015. We look forward to building the winning design which will deliver a new innovative school design to a much needed community in Khovd, Mongolia. I will be posting updates live from the build which will be taking place this Summer.

Check out the Honourable Mentions from the competition:


Maria Elena Beccaria Balduzzi and Martin Didžys based in Denmark.


Daniela Zuanigh, Jennifer Schiano and Carlotta Giusti from Italy


Andrew Kwok and David Majoe from the UK who are currently studying at the University of Bath


Lateral Office (Toronto, CAN) Lola Sheppard, Mason White, Kate Holbrook-Smith and Jack Lipson


Arup and Arup Associates


Yuval Zohar, Livio Ercoli, Guo Xiaojuan, Victor Vieaux and Mei Zhang from Shanghai-based MUDI Architects


Amirabbas Aboutalebi, Hooman Balazadeh, Yasaman forootan, Fatemeh Tajik, Artshin Mazoji, Hoda barzegar ganji and Samira Hajinasiri from Iran



Ragy Aly Mostafa Elsayed Elgendy, Marwa Kamel AbdelHamid El Sayed, Merna Nabil Saad Henen, Aymen Jamal Mohamed Abdelmaksoud, Hebaallah AbdelWahab Mohamed Fathi and Lora Nabil Saad Henen from Pharos University in Alexandria, Egypt.


Gary Robson, Sam Mitson
Nathan Mundy and Thora Arnardottir from Brightspace Architects in the UK

I would like to thank all those participants who took part in such an exciting competition.

Thanks for reading,


Bamboo Trees: Building with Bamboo in the Laos Jungle

For 3 weeks in April, I had the fantastic opportunity to assist in hosting Building Trust’s latest design + build workshop in the Laos jungle. With a team of international volunteers, Laos workers and Building Trust staff we completed the build of an innovative fundraising merchandise store for Free the Bears.


Following the construction of several built projects in South East Asia using natural materials and seeing the growing interest and response in sustainable design and natural materials such as bamboo. Building Trust organised a Design + Build workshop to be held at Kuang Si Falls on the outskirts of Luang Prabang with Free the Bears. Working alongside Atelier COLE, a new merchandise store was designed and built which educates both workshop participants and the high volume of annual tourist visitors to the Tat Kuang Si Park on building with bamboo.


Free the Bears work tirelessly to combat the illegal trade in live bears and provide a safe sanctuary for any rescued bears at Tat Kuang Si Rescue Centre. Most of the bears at the centre are Asiatic Black Bears (Moon Bears) that were illegally captured from the wild as young cubs. It is likely that they were destined for use in the traditional medicine trade. The merchandise store will enable Free the Bears to sell items such as T-shirts, in order to receive much needed donations to allow them to continue their ongoing efforts to protect bears in Laos and beyond.


The fluted fountain like canopies protect the deck area by catching rain water and passing it through the gravel filled, hollow, circular foundation footings. As with all Building Trust projects the Bamboo Trees project worked closely with the local community who in this case were Khmu. They assisted in sharing local skills such as bamboo, rattan weaving and palm thatching which were later used to develop the roof of the structure.


The bamboo is complimented by rope (around 10 kilometres) that spirals around the structure, weaving each piece together and creating strength from the whole. The resulting tensegrity structures lean against each other in a tripartite vault.



You can see more photos of the construction of Bamboo Trees Here and be sure to check out more about Free The Bears!

Thanks for reading!


Design + Build in Italy – August 2015

Italy Design and Build poster opt 2
I am very happy to announce details of Building Trust international’s latest Design + Build workshop which will be held in Italy in August 2015.
Design + Build Workshop, Italy 2015

What will workshop participants learn?

We are happy to announce that we will be working with “Terraepaglia”, a group of artisan handicraft experts who specialize in natural construction methods. Along with creating innovative buildings from earth and straw, Terraepaglia aim to publicize and educate on the use of natural materials and local techniques, that are often considered obsolete and less efficient than modern techniques. The value of this project is in the creation of functional spaces to communicate the importance of sustainable architecture, made of local reused materials.

This is a hands on course working with others to learn on-site skills such as:

  • Adobe bricks mixing and making
  • Soil testing
  • Straw bale construction
  • Rammed earth
  • Wattle and daub walls
  • Natural plastering
  • Wood flooring
When:  The fun bit with hands on lessons in the techniques mentioned above Mon 17th August – Sat 29th August 2015
If you would like to take part in our latest workshop please email and check out more on our partners Terraepaglia
Thanks for reading,


Building Trust are designing and building teacher housing in Battambang with SeeBeyondBorders. The pilot house will hopefully be the start of a wider roll out of both housing for teachers and new classrooms for students…

Check out the latest images from site:




I look forward to updating on on the final week of the build with completed photos very soon.

Thanks for reading,


MOVINGschool update!


We were thrilled to receive photos from MOVINGschool 001 yesterday. The Ironwood team are still working hard in Mae Sot building schools for refugee children on the Thai/Burma border.10991152_782965445086670_6482625846464693396_n

It was great to know the only repair to be made was to a floor plank, pretty amazing after nearly 1000 school days at MOVINGschool 001 which was built in the summer of 2012.




Pocket Parks Project

Building Trust are working with pupils from the The Liger Learning Center and the Cambodian Children’s Fund to create 3 new pocket parks for CCF. The pupils have been working together to create fantastic ideas for the 3 spaces located in Phnom Penh which will be built later this year… Watch this space!

See images below from our brainstorming sessions with the kids!


We split into 3 groups and got the children to first carry out a survey of their pocket park site.


The teams carefully measured out their sites and then began coming up with playground ideas. 10411963_770775256305689_4046901973181857865_n

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On our second meeting with the teams we got them to create 3d models from LEGO and then reviewed the teams designs.



We will be building the children’s amazing designs over the next few months!

Laos Design + Build workshop, April 2015

Laos DB Workshop Poster

I am very pleased to inform you that following the success of our 2014 Design + Build workshops, Building Trust have decided to host a further Live Build Workshop in Laos in April 2015.

The details below are from the link which give more details on the charitable nature of the project and what participants can expect to learn.


Design + Build Workshop, Laos 2015

We are offering a hands on participatory workshop where volunteers will gain experience in sustainable building techniques and understand more about humanitarian design while building worthwhile projects that will have a huge benefit to the local community and local wildlife. Volunteers will gain an insight into a number of building techniques and architectural styles.

What will workshop participants learn?

We are happy to announce that we will be working alongside internationally acclaimed conservation charity, Free the Bears Fund at their Rescue Centre in Laos. The sanctuary was established in 2003 after local authorities confiscated three bear cubs and asked for assistance to help look after them. The rescue centre has continued to provide care for these bears and also accepted further bears that have been confiscated by the Laos authorities. Most of the bears at the centre are Asiatic Black Bears (Moon Bears) that were illegally captured from the wild as young cubs – it is likely that they were destined for use in the traditional medicine trade. The workshop site will be situated within the beautiful Tat Kuang Si Park, a Provincial Protected Area approximately 30km from the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Luang Prabang.

Building Trust international have been requested by FTB to work with the local community and FTB Laotian staff to design and construct a new sustainably built merchandise store. The merchandise store will enable FTB to sell items in order to receive much needed donations to allow them to continue their ongoing efforts to protect bears in Laos and beyond.


Build Workshop: Sat 18th April – Sat 2nd May 2015

This is a hands on course working with others to learn on-site skills such as site management and sustainable material procurement. Volunteers will also see first-hand how we promote and work with local communities taking on traditional skills and a host of other sustainable building techniques.

The workshop is sited next to beautiful waterfalls. Sign up today!!!