PITCHAfrica's Rainwater Harvesting Waterbank Schools Wins Multiple International Honors

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PITCHAfrica's rainwater harvesting Waterbank School in Kenya named Greenest School on Earth by US Green Building Council and honored as finalist in Buckminster Fuller Challenge; named "Socially-Responsible Design's Highest Award" by Metropolis Magazine.

PITCHAfrica's WATERBANK Schools initiative led by Jane Harrison and David Turnbull, has been selected as a finalist in the 2013 Buckminster Fuller Challenge, a prestigious international design science competition, named "Socially-Responsible Design's Highest Award" by Metropolis Magazine. This coincides with the announcement today by the United States Green Building Council in Cape Town today at the WorldGBC Congress that the first rainwater harvesting WATERBANK School building at the Uaso Nyiro Primary School in Laikipia, Kenya has also been named “The Greenest School on Earth.”

Already in June this year, just months after the first school building opened in Kenya's semi-arid Central Highlands, PITCHAfrica’s Rainwater-harvesting WATERBANK Schools initiative was named as one of the 100 most sustainable projects in the world by the Danish organization, Sustainia. An exhibition about PITCHAfrica, WATERBANKS and related Micro-projects, opened last month at the Rhode Island School of Design, the top art and design school in the United States.

The WATERBANK Schools initiative aims to change the design of school buildings globally using rain as a catalyst for social, economic and environmental transformation. The WATERBANK School is a simply constructed alternative to the 4 classroom, barrack style school building, familiar throughout the developing world that can be built for the same cost, with the same materials and the same expertise, but providing twice the accommodation and a host of life-changing amenities.

“It has been an exciting few months for us, says PITCHAfrica's Executive Director,” Jane Harrison. “It means a great deal to us to be receiving recognition of this sort. We are committed to working with organizations and communities in East Africa, across the African Continent and in water-stressed community’s globally where annual rainfall is so often more than adequate to address a community’s water needs.”

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge was created specifically to advance Fuller's famous call to the world's most inventive and creative people to "make the world work for 100% of humanity...". After a rigorous vetting process by the Buckminster Fuller Institute’s multi-disciplinary review team, which included an in-depth interview, followed by a review by a distinguished jury. PITCHAfrica’s WATERBANK Schools was chosen from a pool of 300 entries from around the world, to be one of only five finalists this year. Says PITCHAfrica's Design Director, David Turnbull, “Being selected as a finalist in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge is a great honor for us. We are committed to developing documentation that will allow communities all over the African continent to learn about rainwater harvesting, water filtration, and the geometries that yield the optimum yield to use relationship, and to build Waterbank Schools of their own, using techniques that are regionally appropriate and resilient. The recognition offered by the Buckminster Fuller Institute is already increasing international awareness and building support for our WATERBANK Schools initiative.”

PITCHAfrica currently have four more Waterbank School Building types under construction in the same region, including their flagship PITCHKenya, a rainwater harvesting stadium and school building that will be home to the Samuel Eto'o Soccer Academy. These projects are being implemented at the Endana Secondary School in Laikipia, Kenya, in partnership with the Zeitz Foundation, with funding from the Samuel Eto’o Foundation and a variety of public and private donors. The Zeitz Foundation founder, Jochen Zeitz has said, " “PITCH offers an innovative approach to addressing one of Africa's most pressing problems, provision of clean drinking water; whilst providing urgently needed sport facilities. This makes it a win-win proposition, good for health and good for the environment."

PITCHAfrica's range of WATERBANK School buildings comprehensively addresses the needs of primary and secondary schools, from classrooms to teachers accommodation, latrines and sanitation blocks, dormitories, canteens and sports buildings. Jane Harrison explains, “At PITCHAfrica and with our partner organisation ATOPIA Research, we are developing what we call ‘dynamic infrastructure’ for highly complex social and environmental situations. Dynamic infrastructure integrates essential social, economic and environmental processes with the physical design and structure of the building – creating an active platform for community engagement and social and environmental support and transformation The Waterbank Schools Initiative is an exciting example of this.”

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jane harrison
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