Arup Community Engagement


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Arup Community Engagement

Project overview

Project overview

  • Use of Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks (ISSBs) made up of locally available material, which reduces the use of cement by approximately a third per square metre.
  • Unique curved shaped building built with aesthetic aspirations.
  • Rainwater harvesting with 3 tanks with capacity of 40,000 litres each for water supply and waste going to internal composting toilets or septic tanks that are also constructed using ISSBs.

This scheme is phase one of a vocational college for young people in the Teso region of Uganda to learn practical skills as well as gain academic competence. The phase consists of three buildings which temporarily house the client charities in country offices, a clinic, and temporary accommodation for staff. Phase one also serves for the client charity to confirm their design rationale and procurement routes in the country.

The scheme has been designed to encompass a number of aesthetic aspirations including the building's shape as large radius curves which adds to the visual interest of the site. These buildings have been constructed using interlocking stabilised soil blocks (ISSBs) which are made on site using locally occurring material and which enable a reduction of approximately a third in the use of cement per square metre of installed wall. The scheme is not in an area where it would be possible to drill a borehole and therefore is supplied by rainwater harvesting with waste going to either composting toilets or a septic tank and soak-away. These are also constructed using ISSBs.

This scheme’s primary achievement in terms of sustainability is to further the use of ISSBs in the region and build capacity to replicate this technology without Arup’s involvement for future schemes. This technology not only reduces the use of cement but also removes the need for firing as the blocks cure. This further reduced the carbon footprint of building.

This project has shaped a better world by helping to build capacity in a developing area for the inhabitants to work their way out of poverty by learning new skills. The project itself has helped to introduce the use of ISSB technology to the area which is not only a new industry for the region but an opportunity for much more cost effective and environmentally friendly building techniques going forward.

The project received the prestigious Roy Edwards Award, Institution of Civil Engineers 2013 for ‘Team Contribution for Emerging Engineers’.

The Shalom International School is delivered by an Arup partnership with Engineers for Overseas Development (EFOD).  EFOD provide the structural and infrastructure design skills alongside construction supervision to help build, primarily in the Teso region of Uganda. This goal has been achieved with the involvement, advice, experience and expertise of Arup people in EFOD, together with the client and the local community.

The major stakeholder is the local community which will benefit from this completed project and in their terms this project represents a way to better their lives through improved quality education. This project has helped to build capacity in a developing area for the inhabitants to work their way out of poverty by learning new skills.

The involvement of Arup staff in this scheme has taken a concept design to detailed design and construction. This has enabled the project to progress beyond paper and be realised on site. The scheme itself has enabled the charity to have a formal base in the country, which in turn, has better equipped them to progress future stages of the development. This phase has also provided facilities to have a clinic to treat children supported by TESS and their families as well as a tangible commitment that the rest of the development is being progressed. This will change the lives of those who attend, enabling pupils to obtain useful skills and jobs resulting from them.

This project is innovative in a number of ways:

  • It has further built on the knowledge and experience gained from previous similar projects relating to   building materials, particularly ISSBs.
  • It has been combined with building on knowledge of building design and construction techniques in both developing situations and in sub Saharan climates.
  • The use of large volume ISSB rainwater harvesting tanks is almost unique in this region but will be able to provide water for the project all year round.
  • This project has internal ventilated composting toilets, an approach that has not been used in this region in the past but if accepted could result in wide spread benefits for future designs.
  • The building is very individual in its curved shape which meant particular challenges in setting out and construction as well as education and training on site.
Above all the innovative, unique and challenging aspects of this scheme, its biggest accolade is the positive impact it will have on the lives of people in the region.



24 May, 2013
ICE Wales Cymru Project Awards-Roy Edwards Award for Outstanding Team Contribution by Emerging Engineers 2013

EFOD members, Matthew Bloodworth, Sion Williams and Clare Wilding collected the Roy Edwards Award at the ICE annual awards event in May 2013 on behalf of EFOD.


30 March, 2012
Project Completed
Arup completed the development of an existing concept to detailed design of three buildings and then supervised construction on site using Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks (ISSB) technology as well as local techniques.
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