Arup Community Engagement


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Arup Community Engagement

Project overview

Project overview

  • A cost competitive design with the cost per m2 being 25% cheaper than Ghana Education Trust schools.
  • Increased attendance level in the school from 55 to 160 pupils at the rate of 190%.
  • Use of ventilation and day-lighting to ensure appropriate teaching/learning environment along with the use of sustainable materials like bamboo, coconut fibre and soil.
  • Extensive community consultation and engagement making the local community a huge part of the project.

In October 2008, The Sabre Trust set a design challenge to Arup and Davis Langdon to develop an affordable, replicable and sustainable kindergarten school design to be rolled out in the rural KEEA district of Ghana to meet the requirements of students, teachers and the community.


In response, Arup provided multidisciplinary engineering and architecture design expertise in building the prototype with light, airy and cool classrooms in Dwabor’s kindergarten for a perfect activity-based learning. The new building is a world away from the village’s run down old kindergarten and involved the community from the start. Its design uses sustainable local materials including waste products like bamboo, soil and coconut husks, in inventive ways. It was built with the help of volunteers from Arup and Davis Langdon working alongside the community.


The absence of electricity on site makes it necessary for classrooms to be naturally lit, cooled and ventilated. The building’s orientation and unique pivoted windows maximise daylight, regulate ambient temperature, optimise ventilation and control glare. Similarly, the use of coconut fibre as insulation between the metal roof and the interlocking split bamboo ceiling not only helps keep the building cool but also dampens the noise generated by rain falling on the metal roof. The additional challenge posed by the lack of a water supply in the site is solved by the building design that helps in harvesting rainwater for hand washing, drinking and cooking.


With capacity for 160 pupils, the kindergarten is a prototype for a rollout across the district with a further 20 communities identified as high priority in the KEEA Municipality. The prototype was completed in 2010 with another school in Ayensudo planned for completion in September 2011 for the new school year. The Sabre Trust has agreed to construct a further 6 schools securing funding from the same donor.

Dwabor Kindergarten was designed in partnership with the local community, realising the importance of local knowledge which was gathered from a wide range of stakeholders including village elders, teachers, parents and pupils. This ensured the sense of engagement and ownership in the community. The community group, who contributed land, time and ideas, repeatedly reported satisfaction at the inclusion of their ideas in the development process. The kindergarten was built by the local workforce with help from a team of volunteers from Arup and Davis Langdon. Members of the community were involved throughout the project. This in turn helped the local community - the workers - to enhance their skills which now have subsequently exhibited a great improvement in their performance in similar new projects.  

The Sabre Trust is an education charity working in rural Ghana, to build a brighter future for marginalised and disadvantaged children. The Trust works primarily with rural communities identified through joint needs assessments with the local education authorities and district assemblies. With the success of the Dwabor Kindergarten, Sabre aims to roll out the design across the country in order to achieve its vision of enhancing early years of education across Ghana.  The Trust has already received partnership requests from each of the district governments that neighbour the KEEA Municipality.

Arup provided engineering and design expertise to develop the prototype kindergarten that has now proven to be a modular and sustainable design that can be replicated to other rural communities in need of new kindergarten facilities. At the same time, the school was designed as a best practice showcase with the intention that the construction process would educate and up-skill those working on it, leaving a lasting legacy in the socioeconomic fabric of the community.

The opening of the Dwabor Kindergarten marks the first step in improving access to early year’s education in Ghana.
Dominic Bond, Director, Sabre Charitable Trust, Ghana



22 October, 2014
Project shortlisted in the Corporate Social Responsibility Project of the Year by the Charity Times Award

The Dwabor Sustainable Kindergarten is shortlisted in the Corporate Social Responsibility Project of the Year by the Charity Times Award.

The Sustainable Kindergarten project is the culmination of a six year partnership between Arup and the Sabre Trust. The partnership has built four schools to date and achieved recognition for delivering the best kindergarten schools in Ghana, supporting the government's new strategy to introduce learning through play.

11 August, 2014
Building Brighter Futures exhibition opens

A new exhibition showcasing the development of sustainable kindergarten schools in Ghana is on display at Arup’s offices on 8 Fitzroy Street, London.

1 October, 2013
Corporate Partnership Award at the Third Sector Excellence Awards 2013

Arup and the Sabre Charitable Trust have been presented with the Corporate Partnership Award at the Third Sector Excellence Awards.

19 February, 2010
Opening of Dwabor kindergarten in Ghana

A ceremony today marks the opening of Dwabor kindergarten in Ghana-a joint initiative led by the Sabre Charitable Trust, in partnership with the local community, KEEA Municipal Education Office, Arup and Davis Langdon.Dwabor

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