A win-win-win situation is in the works at CU Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) for the Winterim 2018 term. Eighteen undergraduate students in the International Design Build – Nicaragua class will work with the Pasmata community in Jalapa, Nicaragua, and the non-profit Boulde Jalapa Friendship City Projects to build a small building to serve as a school and community center.
The local residents will benefit from increased educational and social services provided in this structure that will function as a classroom, community meeting hall and visiting nurse medical clinic. And the CU Denver students get to experience the architectural process from idea development to construction while engaging in service learning and gaining international perspective.
Taught by CAP Instructor Jo VandenBurg and PhD Candidate Maria Delgado de Leon, the course sequence began in fall 2017 with students learning about design process and fundraising for building materials. The sequence then continues with the Winterim trip to Nicaragua to collaborate with local volunteers for the construction of the facilities.
This is the third year that CAP has offered a design build course in Nicaragua in late December-early January for Bachelor of Science in Architecture students. Last year’s project involved designing and constructing a community center with a women’s health clinic for the hamlet of Santa Rosa in the Jalapa Valley.
Pasmata, a small hamlet in the Jalapa Valley of Nuevo Segovia, Nicaragua, was witness to intense conflict between the Sandinista and Contra fighters in the 1980s. Today it is a peaceful agricultural community, but most residents earn less than the equivalent of $3 per day.
Currently, the community has an unstable and dilapidated adobe classroom. CAP’s Design Build students will replace it with a new, safe facility designed for education and community gatherings. They will also help install a new outdoor restroom facility to replace the pit latrine that is there now.
Guest Contributor: This article was submitted by Betsy Metzger, director of communications and executive assistant to the dean, College of Architecture and Planning.