Nueva Esperanza School

Al Borde

Design: Al Borde.
Collaborators: Xavier Mera, José Antonio Vivanco y Estefanía Jácome.
Surveying: José Antonio Vivanco.
Location: Puerto Cabuyal, Manabí, Ecuador.
Photographs: Esteban Cadena, Francisco Suárez and Al Borde.

Most of the schools in the area are built using concrete. They are rectangular buildings with bars on the windows that look more like prisons than anything. The drop-out rates are very high. As such, our design was intended not only to solve an immediate problem, but also to create long-term solutions.


“Everyone in the community of Puerto Cabuyal is very proud of our new school. The community is located on the beach, far-removed from the city. Fishing and agriculture are our livelihood. Up until four years ago, there was no school in our community, so most of the inhabitants were illiterate. We created a little school, which operated out of small hut, but the space was too cramped for all of the children. That’s why we began the construction of a new building.” The Teacher

We needed to design a space in keeping with the principles of an active school, in close connection with the surrounding natural environment – a space where the children’s imaginations, their creativity, their desire for learning are all stimulated, not a space where children feel inhibited.


Geometric Development


Structural Diagrams




Volumetric Diagrams

The design is based on the same materials and building logics that have been used to build houses in the community for years. A wooden base on stilts, walls made of reeds, wooden structural elements, and a thatched roof made of toquilla straw. The difference lies in the conception and conceptualization of the space: a setting for education that promotes learning through action.


There has been a major change in the children’s learning. Even opening the door when it’s time for school is a source of discovery for them, a lesson in physics. The space is ample in every sense, so the children feel freer. Everyone can find a place to take part in an activity. The model and the structure transmit a feeling of inventiveness and imagination that supports our artistic and academic activities.” The Teacher


In our fishermen’s community, it is wonderful to have a school in the shape of a boat, where the children come aboard every day and sail off to discover new worlds, from their mysterious inner world, full of abilities and potentials, to the huge outside world that surrounds us. Where the children can learn about science and technology, based on the values of country life, through the lessons of the best teacher a person can have: nature.The Teacher


Now, the children and their parents are proud of their school, of the change it has brought about. It is source of cohesion and self-esteem for the whole community, when visitors from other places see it and are amazed by it.


Construction: Al Borde, volunteers and the community .
Total floor area: 36,00 sq.m.