Primary School Parque Popular (Former Nampula Primary School)

Primary School Parque Popular (Former Nampula Primary School)

Nampula, Nampula, Mozambique

Equipment and Infrastructures

The Parque Popular Primary School (1960) is one the many built examples of the "Eight Classrooms School" typology developed by Fernando Mesquita.

The "Eight Classrooms School", designed for the central areas of the main Mozambican cities, is the larger and more complex program of all school types, planned for primary schools, designed by Fernando Mesquita (1916 -1990’s) in Mozambique between 1955 and 1975.

The "Eight Classrooms School" is the duplication of the "Four Classrooms School" (see entry "16 de Junho Secondary School") in a single building, and is the best to mixed teaching.

The gender separation leads to a typology composed by two independent pavilions and four classrooms placed symmetrical to the main covered gallery, to which are perpendicularly connected other access galleries to classrooms. This detail that can be confused with a formal whim is justified by the fact that in the framed space of the three galleries meeting is designed a covered playground, meant for leisure and physical education. With a programmatic complexity superior to mesquitanos models with fewer classrooms, the complementary education functions are placed along the main circulation gallery.

In no other project the playground can be so clearly read as the living center of the school. From it is distributed the educational unit divided into two volumes of four classrooms, next to it are the sanitary facilities, the medical office, the administrative offices and the cafeteria, working also as an assembly room complemented by the playground. It is also part of the program the guard house composed by two compartments, and a small service patio with toilets and washing.

This school can also be distinguished from others by the use of reinforced concrete of plastic potential, expressed in the clarity of the structure that define: the set of covers, the slanted walls and the flat roofs on pilotis. The brise soleil match the pillars, which through a facade ledge, are manipulated so that the large windows are properly protected when facing South. As supports, its width increases as they reach the ground, varying between 80 and 100 cm. The solution of one slope roof is an extremely modern attitude, away from the common standard, along with a resource saving, concentrates the drainage to the opposite side of user’s movement. The broad air box enables efficient classrooms sound insulation in wet periods.

Unlike other typology designed thinking on a possible expansion, the “Eight Classrooms School" is designed as a closed work: also structured according to the classroom dimensional module, both the structural system of slanted coverage as the organization plan - with emphasis on the design of the tapered gallery - does not allow future expansions. It followed the School Buildings Charter (1959) principle reflecting the scale of its users, consequently as primary it shouldn´t have more than one floor and 8 rooms.

Climate principles of this typology are at all similar Fernando Mesquita school programs: longitudinal orientation, with the facades of further development towards East-West, in order to protect from the sun the two larger walls, where vertical shading devices were applied (brise-soleil, in continuity with the structure, or covered circulation galleries) and larger openings oriented so that the prevailing winds ensure cross ventilation inside the classrooms. The covered circulation galleries on the opposite facade to the wind direction, ensures protected path on rainy days. The beta-windows allow natural light and air orientation to user’s level and at the work area, ensuring permanent natural ventilation of the classroom, even when is rainnig.

Whether visiting the territory and the historical archives, or by using the help of Google Earth, is easily find that this was one of the projects that had the larger impact in school infra-structures of the urban territory of Mozambique: from the smaller places like Chimoio to big the big capital of Maputo, is possible to recognize the existence of this model. Besides “Nampula Primary School” (1960), the "Vila Pery Elementary School"(1960), the "Macatuane Primary School" in Beira and the "Quelimane Elementary School" are some examples of this achievement. Unquestionably characterized by a heightened rationality, economical approach and functional effectiveness, its large-scale implementation plays an undeniable role in the whole territory of Mozambique.

Zara Ferreira

(Referência FCT: PTDC/AUR-AQI/103229/2008)