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Designing Resilient Schools

How can architecture help people in times of natural disasters? In this course, we will design resilient schools for the Philippines.

Enrollment is Closed
  1. Course Number

  2. Classes Start

    Mar 16, 2015
  3. Classes End

    Jul 25, 2017


1. Welcome and Introduction

1.1. Welcome and introduction

1.2. Research Methodology

1.3. Teams, Collaboration and Organization

1.4. Course Certificates and Feedback

1.5. Research Deliverables

2. Resilient Geometries and Spaces

2.1. Natural Disasters and Geographies

2.2. Team Formation Guidelines

2.3. Disaster Resilient Geometries and Spaces

2.4. Weekly Presentation Guidelines

3. Resilient Structures

3.1. Introduction to Resilient Structures

3.2. Resilient Structures for Natural Disasters

3.3. Case Studies on Resilient Architecture

3.4. Structural Assignment Guidelines

4. Building Enclosure

4.1. Introduction to Resilient Building Enclosures

4.2. Resilient Roofs

4.3. Resilient Facade Systems

4.4. Windows and Openings

4.5. Resilient Enclosures Assignment

5. Building Systems

5.1. Introduction to Resilient Building Systems

5.2. Energy, Heating, Cooling and Light

5.3. Water Collection and Management

5.4. Waste Management and Recycling

5.5. Building Systems Assignment

6. Final Presentation Guidelines

Submission Format and Guidelines

About This Course

On November 9, 2013 the devastating typhoon Haiyan hit the Phillipines, causing more than 5,000 deaths and destroying the homes and cities for millions. Natural disasters are happening more and more often due to climate change. We can’t do much to stop them, but as architects we can help with the recovery and to build shelters that would withstand them.

The goal of this online course is to generate design ideas for resilient schools for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and other natural disasters. The participants in this course will design schools, which could be implemented by the Department of Education and Architecture for Humanity in the Philippines. We will engage with a team of architects, planners, engineers, and social workers. After the course, the projects and instructions will be placed on the open source platform Open Online Architecture (, so anyone can download and use them.

An international jury will select the best projects, which will eventually be built. We’ll have weekly lectures and daily discussions on our forum. A team of professors, consultants, and teaching assistants led by Prof. Ivan Shumkov will guide and assist all students in their work.

Course Structure

Week 1: Welcome and Introduction

Week 2: Schools and Resilient Architecture

Week 3: Classroom Unit Design

Week 4: Aggregation and Site Design

Week 5: Resilient School Design

Week 6: Design Submission and Feedback

Learning Outcomes

Students will learn about resilient architeture and how it can be used in communities in need. They will improve their design and collaboration skills. During the second week of the course, each student will design individual proposals and post them on the forum. All students will be publish their design proposals and ask others for feedback and help on their projects. They will form collaboration teams, which will work together on developing integral projects that include aspects of architectural design, engineering, social space, community development, economical feasibility, sustainability and resilience.


The involvement in the course is flexible. For architects, this is meant to be an intensive design studio course, so participants are expected to dedicate 10-20 hours a week. For others, who act as advisors and collaborators, it could take 2-5 hours of work weekly.

Course Format

The course will be organized similar to a competition for design ideas, but will encourage collaborations and teamwork. We will use peer-to-peer review as a way to exchange feedback. We will also have a course forum and team groups on Google+ where students will exchange and discuss design ideas. During the course, the projects will be developed to the phase of schematic design. At the end of the course, the 5-10 best proposals will be selected and further developed with the guidance of the course professor, consultants, and the local authorities. Some of the proposals will eventually be build if funding and local support are secured.


After completing the course assignments, students will receive a letter of participation according to their role and degree of involvement: architect, designer, project manager, engineer, consultant, advisor, economist, communications, etc. Students who submit the final Resilient School project will be eligible for the official certificate of successful completion of the course.


Previous experience in design is recommended, but there will be opportunities for others to participate. The course work will be collaboration between people from many different backgrounds: design, engineering, economics, healthcare, social studies. They will share and exchange their knowledge, skills and energy to design solutions that are resilient, feasible, sustainable, buildable, etc.

Course Staff

Course Staff Image #1

Dr. Ivan R. Shumkov

Dr. Ivan Shumkov is a New York based architect, professor, curator, leader in online design education, and the founder of Open Online Academy. He has taught architecture, design, history and theory at Harvard University GSD, Pratt Institute School of Architecture, Parsons the new School for Design, International University of Catalonia, and ETSA Barcelona. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Harvard Alumni Association and President of Harvard Architectural and Urban Society Alumni. He graduated with masters degrees from ETSA Barcelona, University of Florence, and Harvard University GSD, as a Fulbright scholar. He completed his PhD in Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and Columbia University GSAPP, as fellow of the Fondation Le Corbusier. Dr. Shumkov is a licensed architect in Spain and Italy and principal of ISA - Ivan Shumkov Architects, a company working in the fields of architecture, urbanism, landscape and design with offices in New York and Barcelona. He has worked, lectured and exhibited his projects and research in Europe, Brazil, Colombia, China, and the USA.

Course Staff Image #2

Illac Angelo Diaz

Illac Diaz is a former corporate executive who has since gone on to establish several foundations that provide sustainable solutions to societal problems. He is the executive director of MyShelter Foundation, a non-profit organization which has been engaged in improving the lives of many Filipinos through the creation of sustainable solutions for using recycled materials for the building of clinics and classrooms in rural areas.

Diaz holds a Masters in Public Administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School. He also completed the program Special Program in Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was recognized as one of the Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum, Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World by the Jaycees International, and is an Ernst and Young Innovation Entrepreneur of the Year. He has returned to the Philippines to apply and disseminate his research in needy communities throughout the country.

Course Staff Image #2

Arnold Riviera

Arnold Abad Rivera is founder of odo:office for design operations, a think tank organization that applies architectural design thinking as a strategy for addressing complex socially relevant issues in developing countries around the world. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Architecture with magna cum laude distinction from Florida AM University and is a graduate of Harvard-GSD with a Master Degree in Architecture. His graduate thesis at Harvard-GSD entitled “Quotidian Spaces” is an examination of the gaps created by the Big Dig Project in Boston and an exercise in socio-economic studies through architectural interventions. The quotidian holds a significant influence in the trajectory of odo's focus on socially relevant projects that examines the spatial challenges of the human living conditions in developing countries. Arnold is a native of the Philippines and a citizen of the United States of America. Although he has lived in the US for most of his life his connection to his native Philippines remain firm because of his interest in the socio-economic challenges presented by natural disasters and political instability. He is an idealist and an advocate of spatial democracy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to buy a textbook?

No, a free online readings will be distributed.

Can anyone sign for this course for free