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Chipakata Children’s Academy in Zambia, Africa, offers a new kind of school paradigm for children living in rural African communities. A collaborative team of architects and engineers worked closely with community residents to create a school that will offer comprehensive primary school education for children living among local villages. The project seeks to define a sense of place and community for the Village as well as create a structure that is an innovative response to the land and climate.

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Chipakata Children’s Academy is a new primary school in Zambia, Africa. It is the first initiative of the 14+ Foundation, a NYC-based non-profit organization established in 2012 by Joseph Mizzi and Nchimunya Wulf. The Foundation’s mission is to develop, build and operate schools and orphanages in rural African communities.

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The school’s curriculum will provide a comprehensive primary school education, grades 1-7, to children living among 7 villages in and around the Chipakata Village community.


The first phase of the project, which opened on January 5, 2015, includes a classroom building that serves close to 150 children, community and administrative structures, 5 teachers’ housing units, as well as agricultural areas dedicated to generating food and income to help support the operation of the school and to ensure long-term economic sustainability for the project. Local village residents were key participants throughout the development and construction process.

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The site of the school is located in Chipakata Village, Rufunsa District, approximately 100 kilometers east of Lusaka, Zambia’s largest city. Locating the school within the village has dramatically reduced the distance the children have to walk to school each day. The nearest school, where many children previously attended, is a 7km journey each way.

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Referencing regional school planning typologies, the standard classroom structure is transformed to create a new paradigm.

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Situated on level topography with views to the surrounding hills east and west, the design of the project seeks to define a sense of place and community for the Village.

Referencing regional school planning typologies, the standard classroom structure is transformed to create a new paradigm. Pulling apart the typical classroom bar building and introducing an open space between the outer classrooms creates two collaborative outdoor activity areas that are protected from the weather.

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An upper level is created by elevating the roof canopy above the masonry base with stair access to four open-air spaces directly above each classroom. This results in the creation of ten learning spaces as compared to the original four spaces found in the standard prototype.

Informed by the local climate and solar conditions, the window openings and roof canopy are configured to maximize daylight within the classrooms by integrating continuous clerestory windows throughout, while the roof overhang protects spaces from harsh solar gain during the summer months.


The material and textural quality of the masonry construction is expressed in the screen walls that enclose the stairs at either end of the building.


Adjacent to the classroom building is a community gathering space, a triangular shaped structure, providing shelter from the sun and rain and a flexible space for eating, gathering and community celebrations.

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Chipakata Children's Academy Featured on Curbed

Chipakata Childrens Academy

Susan Rodriguez’s collaboration with the 14+ Foundation is the focus of Laura Raskin’s article, “Building Trust, and a Schoolhouse, in a Zambian Community.”

Chipakata announced as 2016 AIANY Honor Award Winner

View 2016 Chipakata AIANY Honor Award Winning submission here.


Design Team
  • Frank Lupo FAIA
  • Randy Antonia Lott
  • Nat Oppenheimer , Robert Silman Associates
  • Hiroko Nakatani , Ennead Lab
  • Fabian Bedolla
  • Gord Ray
  • Joseph Mizzi