• Mama Sarah Foundation School/Kere Architecture

Architects: Kere Architecture  
Location: Kogello  Kenya
Project Team: Kere Architetcure
Project Year: 2014
Photographer: Kere Architecture
Website: http://www.kere-architecture.com


Kogelo is located in Western Kenya, approximately 60 km northwest of Kisumu, Kenya. Kogelo has a population of around 3,600 people.  Mama Sarah Obama’s vision is to create a “cycle of life” that encompasses an early childhood education centre, a primary and secondary school, a medical centre and a vocational training centre.


There are three main areas contained in the masterplan, the secondary school, primary school and nursery school. The nursery school is completely separate from the rest of the complex; this is signified by a change in ground level. The primary and secondary schools share certain facilities, which are located in the centre of the site.

The location and orientation of the shared facilities at the centre of the site allows them to be accessed easily from any of the other areas.

The facilities can also sometimes be used by the rest of the village, so this area will be the real focal point of the complex. 


Each school has its own entrance, independent from the others. The central area containing facilities sometimes available to the entire village can be accessed from both the primary and secondary school entrances. To the north-east of the site a connection with the dispensary is possible. The nursery school is completely separate, in its own stand-alone compound with separate security. The school buildings form a chain of education, from the youngest toddlers to pupils graduating from the secondary school. The scale and level of control over the spaces develops as the children grow. As the children move up the school they will be excited and inspired to progress to the next stage, due to the aspirational quality of the buildings.

The form of the buildings creates small garden areas. The orientation of the buildings combined with the site boundaries encloses the gardens and provides more privacy. The gardens are shaded, intimate spaces for the pupils to sit, read and relax in. The gardens occur around the classrooms and dormitories. In addition to these contemplative gardens there are a number of “teaching fields”, where the pupils will learn to grow their own crops. The land at the back of the site will be for agricultural purposes. On the other side of the classrooms there are open, public courtyards. These are playgrounds for socialising, meeting friends and playing. The primary school playground looks out over the sports field, while in the secondary school the playground is more enclosed, as the children of different ages will use these spaces differently. The central space is surrounded by the most important and shared facilities: the auditorium, libraries, canteen, kitchen, chapel, and also the administration blocks for the primary and secondary schools. This space can be used by members of the community as well as the schools.


The auditorium is the focal point of the complex. It is a large ampitheatre, integrated into the slope of the ground. The open space around the auditorium is shared with the basketball arena, which means that it can expand for large events and celebrations. The canteen is a central meeting point for the pupils of the primary and secondary schools. The nursery school has its own eating area.. Each school has an outdoor football pitch and an indoor basketball court/ gymnasium. The basketball arena is very open and allows a maintained visual connection between the central space and the secondary school. The football pitches are aligned perpendicular to the path of the sun, so that it will never be shining directly into the eyes of one of the teams playing. This orientation allows a space for viewing stands next to each pitch. The secondary school hosts a a stadium soccer arena with running tracks and a full-sized pitch for large matches as well as student training sessions. The primary school has a smaller soccer field for use by the younger children. The primary and secondary schools contain classrooms for computer labs, music, art, maths and science, as well as some humanities. In the nursery school, each year has its own classroom and nap room.

The children will start to learn to read at an early age. The accommodation for the secondary school is arranged around courtyards and has private areas for the exclusive use of the students. It is more removed from the school area.


Most importantly the master plan allows for the construction of more dormitories if these are required at a later date.

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