The judges in the Aga Khan Prize for Architecture emphasised that the plan for the primary school in Herat is an innovative school building designed for a war zone, or a country that has recently been involved in an armed conflict, and included it in the list of twenty finalists shortlisted for the 2013 prize.
The primary school was built by Maria Grazia Cutuli Foundation in memory of the Italian reporter killed in Afghanistan in 2001. The project is by a team including architectural studios 2A+P/A, IaN+, Mario Cutuli, ma0/emmeazero.
Walls enclose various different volumes – classrooms, a library and staff housing – dotted around a garden based on the spatial organisation typical of an Afghan village. What makes the complex truly unique is the strongly contrasting colours used ("lapis lazuli" walls recalling Afghan ceramics with red window and door frames) in a landscape where the only colours are typically those of the mountains and the fields.
Design: 2A+P/A, IaN+, Mario Cutuli, ma0/emmeazero
Location: Herat, Afghanistan
Images courtesy of AKAA ph. Nazes Afroz - courtesy of Maria Grazia Cutuli Foundation