Ilima Primary School – Description of MASS Design Group.
In the jungle of the Congo Basin, six hours by motorcycle from the nearest airstrip, the Ilima Primary School by MASS and the African Wildlife Foundation, serves as a community center for integration with local wildlife. Built entirely with materials and labor sourced on site, the school embodies MASS’s ethos of Lo-Fab, or local fabrication, highlighting local crafts and skills.
Timber trusses, roof framing furniture, and architectural details were sawn, planed and crafted by hand from trees selected by conservationists. Local builders and MASS architects developed a method for transforming local trees by hand into durable and replaceable wood shingles.
Taking their cue from regional and climate-aware design practices, the school’s steep roof and gutter system respond to heavy rainfall and provide protection from sun and rain for the common areas. Combined with the open clerestory, this design encourages natural ventilation and daylight to create comfortable classrooms.