Students from remote villages can now have dormitories in the Student Residence Santa Elena in a rural area of the central jungle of Peru. The building’s modular and bioclimatic design supports natural ventilation and lighting. It can even expand for future needs.
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Student Residence Santa Elena joins an existing school building, allowing access to education for students from the most remote communities. The building features wood framing with a light roof and “minimal habitable modules” or cabins. The OSB walls divide the space and define usage. The project centered a participatory process, and the design allows for modular expansion in a structural style that suits the natural jungle environment.
Each modular cabin opens to a common area of the residence hall via a sliding door that connects to the main hallway. The main hallway is equipped with tables and chairs to become an extension of the rooms. With this format, the building allows for varying levels of privacy as needed throughout the day.
In the dorm rooms, plywood bunk beds feature built-in storage and headroom above for comfortable living. The simplicity of the hallway and translucent walls creates a flexible semi-open design well-suited to the climate and energy-saving due to requiring less power for lighting. The translucent panels also have sections that open like windows for maximum comfort and ventilation.
On the roof, an elevated tank collects rainwater and filters it into storage for use in bathrooms. Fixed mosquito netting prevents insects from getting inside, while openings on opposite sides of the building under the single-pitched roof create natural cross-ventilation. The building is split into men’s and women’s dorms, with bathrooms and laundry facilities in the middle.
It’s a design built for the jungle climate and the students who need accommodations to avoid traveling long and dangerous roads to get to school. The Santa Elena dorms also use simplicity to minimize design costs and waste and create a livable long-term space with minimal energy usage.
Photography by Eleazar Cuadros