Museum summer pavilion reconstructed as school for African orphans

A pavilion designed by Spanish architect duo Selgascano has been shipped from a Danish art museum to one of the poorest parts of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where it now serves as a school for 600 orphaned children.

The structure was originally constructed by José Selgas and Lucía Cano at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art – which is in Copenhagen – but has been rebuilt in a district called Kibera.

In its new role as a school, it is intended to demonstrate how architecture can make a big difference to the world’s poorest communities.

“Architecture and design isn’t just about looking nice, it is about making a difference to people’s lives,” said Rohan Silva of cross-industry corporate social responsibility group Second Home, one of the partners in the project.

“It can change people’s behaviour, it can support development, it can help the poorest,” he told said.

“As depressing as the world can be sometimes, it can be shaped by good architecture and good design. I think that is really life-affirming.”

The project came about after photographer Iwan Baan visited the old Kibera Hamlets School, which had no drainage, toilets, electricity and an inadequate roof to keep out the frequent rain. It was also surrounded by pile of garbage.

He approached Selgas and Cano, who has already been commissioned to design the Louisiana Museum’s 2016 summer pavilion. They then teamed up with Second Home, as well as architects Helloeverything and AbdulFatah Adam to plan a more socially minded second life for the pavilion.