This past week our team has had various meetings and interviews with local contractors and builders; local Nicaraguan teachers and GCEC teachers from the US; students attending the GCEC ministry, El Puente; and other residents in the city. We also spent a considerable time exploring our site and getting to know the neighborhood of El Pantanal. Our site sits at the base of Volcano Mombacho with a beautiful view of Lake Nicaragua to the east. Currently only a large open air pavilion made of local eucalyptus wood and traditional red roof clay tiles sits on our site. Three immense arroyos- dried river beds- surround the pavilion rich with wildlife from rattle snakes and scorpions to horses and the neighborhood dogs of El Pantanal. Mango trees, Tamarind trees, Eucalyptus, Palm and soaring Saber trees cover our site. Such abundance of nature provides numerous opportunities for an education immersed in an understanding and appreciation for one's surrounding but also a huge design challenge to thoughtfully create an architecture responsive and interactive with nature.
Consistent winds from the lake, the relentless sun, and a wet season of heavy rains provide an abundance of passive energy design opportunities. We strive to keep the school "off the grid" through use of natural ventilation and lighting and small scale technolgies that will be intelligently placed on site such as solar panels to power and pump the water well, dry composting latrine toilets, etc.
As you can tell this is an unreal project for us all - especially the thought of seeing our design be constructed over the next few years. We have jumped into this week and this project with all of our hearts -I am inspired by my team members daily for their hardwork and passion. I think it is rooted in the people here in Granada and El Pantanal and the clear potential for development in this country, development that is largely founded in the youth of Nicaragua and the education they receive.