Mongolian Cool School
SUNBOX provides a solution to the challenging circumstances surrounding the proposed school extension at Tsast Altai, in Khovd, Mongolia. Pulled tight into the northeastern corner of the site, the extension opens up to the south, with the goal of gathering as much solar heat as it can. The southern roofline runs at a low 3m, occasionally popping up to 4.8m, to meet the existing school’s height with a clerestory.
The walls are thick, and super-insulated. Masonry harvested from local clay forms the structure entirely on the interior, holding up a light wood roof, while plaster-covered straw bale walls fully wrap around the building like the thick coat of felt around a ger. This self-supporting wall, made of waste materials, provides nearly half a meter of insulation without any drafts or leaks.
Extensive glazing along the south facade ensures an immense opportunity for passive solar heating, where the low sun in the winter months deeply penetrates the building to provide heat, but the high sun in the summer is shaded, keeping interior temperatures low.
The distinctive profile of the SUNBOX is designed to ensure sunlight is found throughout the building, in a series of bright interior spaces. A palette of hardy materials, a sense of play and child-scale detailing, and the use of vibrant colour throughout support the school program through the creation of a fun, warm, and safe environment.
Project Type: Competition
Location: Khovd, Mongolia
Area: 315 m², 3400 ft²
Client: Building Trust International