Off-grid library encourages education in remote Tanzania

Humanitarian architect Patricia Erimescu designed an off-grid library built with recycled and locally sourced materials.

Nestled in the lower slopes of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro lies the newly constructed Njoro Children’s Library. Completely off-grid, the building was designed by humanitarian architect Patricia Erimescu in collaboration with the local NGO excel education foundation. It was built from local materials using traditional construction methods.

“A community needs something more than a physical space, it needs beliefs, a common characteristic or a common background,” writes Erimescu. “The Njoro Children’s Library aims to develop education and to involve children, parents, teachers, locals and international volunteers to come together to build a place where pupils can read and study.”

Because of its remote location, the Njoro Children’s Library functions without electricity. Its design combines traditional masai elements. To regulate the building’s temperature, compressed earth was used as the main construction material. Further features include perforated baked brick walls, which provide natural ventilation and light, window shutters protect against sunlight and vegetation shields the building from the dry, dusty wind.

A number of recycled materials were used in the construction. “For the walls we used compressed earth blocks and concrete blocks found at an abandoned construction,” writes Erimescu. “The windows, doors and furniture were made with recycled wood used in the construction of the foundation and bond.”