Lali Gurans Orphanage
Designing a complex concrete structure in one of the world’s most seismically active regions was the task we faced when working on a scheme to move an established orphanage out of the city and into the leafy suburbs of Kathmandu.
The Buddhist Child Home, a non-profit and non-religious orphanage, has been caring for children from its base in a congested and polluted area of Nepal’s crowded capital since 1994. Now New York-based architect MOS has been commissioned to design a brand new building nestled amongst fields yet still within easy access of facilities.
The design features a 3,300 m² building incorporating two layers of structure. There is a stacked series of rooms – including assembly hall, dining room and bedrooms – creating a four-storey building topped by a roof terrace. Supporting columns for these floor slabs have been pushed to the perimeter to maximise internal space.
A second, outer layer of columns, which tapers inwards above first floor level, defines the building’s external envelope and accommodates sun-shading louvres. The space between these two layers of structure is used for circulation, including staircases and landings, plus semi-enclosed play space.
Concrete was chosen as the preferred material for the structure as it is readily available in Nepal and would provide the necessary robustness for a structure in an area of high earthquake risk.
The designs include a concrete stair core located to one edge of the building to deliver clear floor plates. However, this means that in the event of a tremor, the building would tend to rotate laterally around this point.
We therefore needed to find a way to provide additional stability without destroying the building’s grid-like appearance. This was addressed by increasing the size of each structural member to stiffen the building’s frame. Additional concrete staircases and landings also provide bracing to resist seismic loads.
Complex concrete school structure in the semi-rural suburbs of Kathmandu
Buddhist Child Home
- 2014 Holcim Award Silver