School Out of the Box

School out of the box is a conceptual proposal for provisioning critical support infrastructure for under-resourced schools in rural South Africa.

A recent report by the Department of Basic Education identifies that of the 23,500 public schools in South Africa:

  • 10,419 use dangerous and unhealthy (non-VIP) pit toilets
  • 11,280 have no kitchen for their nutritional programme
  • 16,000 lack Grade R facilities

The proposal uses the ubiquitous 20ft (6m) shipping container, exploring  its strength and availability, to deliver replicable, scale-able, robust and well designed modules to satisfy the above-mentioned deficiencies.

Following a comprehensive fit-out using high grade finishes and components, the container is transported to a site prepared for its installation. Further on-site construction creates a robust, functional facility fit for use and responsive to site conditions. The installed modules  require  no 'linkages' - the proposal suggests  stand-alone modules that harvest rainwater (for drinking, hand-washing, cooking and dishwashing), heat water (for cooking and pot and dish washing) and generate PV solar electricity (for lights, computers and general use).

The proposal is founded on the following key principles:

  • The 20ft shipping container forms the core component of the programme.
  • The inherent properties of the shipping container are maximised: structural integrity; weather tightness; security; standardised dimensions.
  • High grade container ‘fit-out’ entails off-site manufacture in a controlled factory environment. Site preparation and additional on-site elements would use locally-sourced materials, skills and labour.
  • On-site and off-site components are prepared simultaneously resulting in fast delivery and final assembly.
  • The programme is scale-able.
  • All components are robust and durable.
  • The modules are easily transportable to remote sites. The delivered module is packed with pre-fabricated components necessary for construction.
  • All components are designed for deconstruction and generate minimal waste.


Project PDF