Salihi Zirak High School

Salihi Zirak High School project is a replacement facility to a school in rural Afghanistan. The school is in Zirak Village of Jaghori District in Ghazni Provence of Afghanistan. The school, having full community support has been serving Zirak and its surrounding villages for 25 years educating boys, girls and adults. The school has also served as the community gathering location for ceremonies and celebrations like Teachers Day, Mother’s Day, school anniversaries, and other school events.

Design Challenge

The team was challenged to design a holistic site and replacement facility for Salihi Zirak High School (SZHS) located in the rural Zirak village of Jaghori, a district of Ghazni Provence in Afghanistan. Planning an educational campus organized around a central, active courtyard and irrigation spine, using regionally contextual materials and building techniques further added to this challenge. The design incorporates passive strategies and intentional design decisions to create a learning hub at the heart of a rural landscape. All design efforts aim to enhance the educational experience for students, teachers, and the community of Zirak village for years to come.

Physical Context

The landscape surrounding SZHS is mountainous and desert-like with temperate summers and extremely cold winters. Small creeks and streams drain water off the mountain on-site during the winter. The design redirects these streams into the main courtyard to provide a living bio-swale for the school that provides vegetation to shade the school in summer and protect from cold winds in winter. There are no municipal services in rural Afghanistan where SZHS is located. The design of the school leverages passive design in a highly efficient building geometry and orientation to minimize the demand for energy. A tight building envelope, using operable windows as needed will minimize air infiltration and ex-filtration thus keeping the building comfortable. Existing wells will continue as the water source for the school.