Lyra Hostels for school girls in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania

Through education, girls acquire the capacity for better livelihoods. In rural Tanzania, however, going to school may be a challenge: some girls must walk up to 30 km to reach their school. The daily journey or living far from home alone at a young age can get dangerous, with serious consequences: pregnancy is considered a valid reason for expelling a girl from school — which terminates her education. For this purpose, safe and well-designed hostels for girls are needed.

The non-governmental organization Ukumbi and architects Saija Hollmén, Jenni Reuter and Helena Sandman have worked together with the NGO Lyra in Africa, to design and build dormitories for girls in secondary schools in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. The first executed dormitory opened in October 2018 in Nyang’oro, the second in Ilambilole 2020, the third in Ifwagi 2021, and the fourth opened in February 2022 in Maduma. Lyra in Africa is providing the funding for the construction of the hostel facilities, whereas Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects have provided the architectural design. The four hostels are all executed as variations of the same design solution and built of interlocking stabilized soil blocks (ISSB). The communities have provided the materials for the foundation and participated in the construction of the hostels.

The objective of the hostel design was to create a model for low-cost hostel buildings that would be socially and environmentally sustainable. The architecture needed to be culturally appropriate and create a safe home for the girls. The architects collaborated with the girls to create the design that resulted in an atrium building for 96 girls with personal rooms to fit 8 girls each, and plenty of space where they could engage in homework and hang out together.

Hollmén Reuter Sandman architects