Indigenous Mayans have the fewest opportunities of any group in Guatemala. Lack of educational infrastructure is one of their biggest challenges. In the rural Mayan village of Centro Uno, there is no middle/high school building. Without a secondary school building, 80% of children in this village leave school before 9th grade. Many of these vulnerable 12-13 year olds end up traveling to larger cities or the U.S. as unaccompanied minors, at great risk for violence and exploitation.

Building on the proven success of the Seeds of Wisdom School in San Mateo, the Ixtatan Foundation sought to extend it’s innovative and culturally-specific project-based learning model to address the need in other communities throughout the mountainous region of Huehuetenango. They partnered with the Building Goodness Foundation (BFF) to raise funds, design and construct as many as nine schools, beginning with Centro Uno.

Indigenous Mayans have the fewest opportunities of any group in Guatemala. Lack of educational infrastructure is one of their biggest challenges. In the rural Mayan village of Centro Uno, there is no middle/high school building. Without a secondary school building, 80% of children in this village leave school before 9th grade. Many of these vulnerable 12-13 year olds end up traveling to larger cities or the U.S. as unaccompanied minors, at great risk for violence and exploitation.

Building on the proven success of the Seeds of Wisdom School in San Mateo, the Ixtatan Foundation sought to extend it’s innovative and culturally-specific project-based learning model to address the need in other communities throughout the mountainous region of Huehuetenango. They partnered with the Building Goodness Foundation (BFF) to raise funds, design and construct as many as nine schools, beginning with Centro Uno.

BGF organized a group of volunteer architects, engineers, and contractors to travel to Guatemala to work with community leaders, educators, and students to plan and design the school. The school is designed to support project-based learning focused on developing functional skills and career opportunities in everything from nursing to renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. A hovering roof structure provides shelter from the elements and harvests energy and water. Below the roof, four buildings constructed with compressed earth blocks contain six classrooms, a library, administration and support spaces are arranged around a covered outdoor space for gathering and hands-on learning. Support spaces topped with a water tank form an iconic tower clad in local river rock. A solar clock on the tower marks important days on the Mayan calendar and announces the school to the community.

VMDO plans to return in 2020 as part of the school's construction crew.

BGF organized a group of volunteer architects, engineers, and contractors to travel to Guatemala to work with community leaders, educators, and students to plan and design the school. The school is designed to support project-based learning focused on developing functional skills and career opportunities in everything from nursing to renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. A hovering roof structure provides shelter from the elements and harvests energy and water. Below the roof, four buildings constructed with compressed earth blocks contain six classrooms, a library, administration and support spaces are arranged around a covered outdoor space for gathering and hands-on learning. Support spaces topped with a water tank form an iconic tower clad in local river rock. A solar clock on the tower marks important days on the Mayan calendar and announces the school to the community.

VMDO plans to return in 2020 as part of the school's construction crew.

Client: Building Goodness Foundation

Location: Centro Uno, Guatemala

Discipline: Middle & High Schools

Completion: 2021

Size: 10,333 SF