“We are halfway there“

A onetime refugee settlement has now become a town: Ulyankulu in Western Tanzania aims to align urban structures in terms of public, environmental, and cultural use – no easy path to walk. Limited access to resources and high transportation and material costs have hampered development. Commissioned by the Wayair Foundation, which supports a local, democratic, theatre-based educational approach, the Polish architectural offices JEJU.studio and Arh+ Pracownia Architektoniczna designed the educational village. The aim: not only to support development through education but also – best-case scenario – to catalyze development of the whole area. We met Adam and Iwo of JEJU.studio and talked about their work and why we should make a donation at wayair.org.

Adam, Iwo, you are currently working on a huge and important project, a school in Tanzania. As a young office that must be challenging. Are you afraid?
It’s exciting, not frightening. Both of us worked in ambitious offices, on big projects before. On top of that, we know that the sooner we face challenges, the sooner we will be used to and ready to tackle them. It’s a steep learning curve, and we are very happy about that. There are things we don’t know how to do, but as long as we know what we want to achieve, we are ready. It’s just a matter of finding the right tools and people to get it done.

How did that come about? The collaboration between you and the Wayair foundation?
Iwo is a graduate of Wayair school in Poland. After becoming a laureat of the Young Talent Architectural Award in 2016, we were contacted by the foundation for an informal meeting as consultants. Since then, our relationship transformed into a close cooperation.

What’s the status of the project? What kind of challenges do you face at the moment?
We are halfway there. The first out of two stages is almost done. Kids will start their classes soon. For now, school consists of two regular classrooms, the theatre classroom, administration block, patios, toilets, and technical area with a water tank. Built volumes make up half of the circumference of the big central courtyard. To complete it, we need to construct the remaining three classrooms. This will hopefully happen in the first half of 2020, but it all depends on funding.

People can still contribute to the continuation of the project. Why should I make a donation?
Anyone can become a part of this project. Visit www.wayair.org for more informations on how you can help. Donations at the moment are going to help us produce beautiful ornamental window shutters and palm leaf ceilings woven by local women. So your money would help us build the school, but also employ and stimulate local craftsman. Asente sana!

You founded your architecture office in 2017, but you still work with your gmail addresses. What are the next big milestones?
Well, we’re just creatures of habit. You can also reach us at hello@jeju.studio. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, our design is what makes us professional. We’re currently excited to work on a significant project in Poznań, Poland. It’s a five-hectare redevelopment of a heritage slaughterhouse from 1900. Now it would be a great to get involved in a bigger international endeavour. Our next big milestone would be to get invited to a closed international competition. Let’s do it before the end of 2020. Small ones count as well!

The detailed project description of the school area in Ulyankulu can be found in topos 106.