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MASTER'S PROJECT: More than Me! Sustainable School Yard Design, Liberia


The goal of this project is to engage students at the More than Me Academy in a participatory landscape design project that will provide designs for a new school yard landscape. More that Me is an international not for profit working to educate young girls in order to prevent poverty and prostitution. They are located in one of the poorest slums of Liberia, West Africa. The school is free to attending students.

The land surrounding the Academy is urban fill and not suitable for growing food, plants, and possibly not safe for outdoor play. The goal of Sustainability without Borders is to create a school yard that provides opportunities for education, play and rest. The masters project group will create a master plan with phasing for the site. Innovative design ideas are necessary in order to create a safe space for children. Additionally, if needed detailed construction documents for implementation are expected for some portion of the site. These will be used for the first phase of design/build. The design should also incorporate renewable energy technologies for the compound to operate off-the grid and an aquaponics system which are being designed by Sustainability Without Borders. Educational curricular support for using the garden is encouraged.

Liberia is reconstructing after its 14-year civil war that ended in 2003. The war left severe environmental and social impacts on local residents, not the least of which is tremendous poverty that limits access to fresh food and water, safe and affordable energy, and education for young people. This situation has led to the desperate situation in which young girls must act as prostitutes in order to survive. Access to education has been shown to have a significant impact on poverty reduction increasing wages, lowering birth rates and increasing investment in the community.

SWB is a student organization sponsored by the Center for Sustainable Systems. Their mission is to create a network of sustainability practitioners through the design and implementation of sustainable projects and human capacity development. SWB and More-Than-Me have a working relationship that has included a solar cell phone charging station micro-business, aquaponics design, and curriculum development.

Students working on this project will have to travel to Liberia to meet with stakeholders at least twice during the project duration. The first trip is envisioned as a discovery and customer needs assessment trip. The second trip will be a presentation of final design. Implementation of the design will be pursued to the extent possible but it is not expected from the team graduating on 2015.

Identify expected products/deliverables:

  • A participatory design process engaging students, teachers and local leaders in design of school yard.
  • Master plan with construction phasing for future projects.
  • Full design specifications for school yard landscape.
  • Design should include a space for growing food, aquaponics and playground
  • The first phase of construction of the landscape design. It is not expected that the entire design will be implemented in the first year of this project.
  • Construction project plan should find ways to engage students in the building and care of site to develop skills, stewardship and a sense of ownership.
  • Lesson plans for use of landscape post construction. (ie lessons might include but not be limited to: Growing vegetables, What is solar energy? Caring for fish. Nutrition)
More Than Me!
Research Areas
Urban Systems and Built Environment