Andrew Blaisdell (MArch, 2010) realized a unique opportunity when Wosen Kifle, a native of Ethiopia and current Minneapolis resident asked the College of Design in 2009 for help designing an elementary school and clinic complex on his family's land in Furi, outside of Addis Adaba, Ethiopia. Blaisdell took on the project and is advised by Ozayr Saloojee (Architecture). Last spring, Blaisdell was sponsored by the School of Architecture and the college's dean's office to visit Furi to assess socio-cultural and material conditions. He wrote his master's thesis on the topic of technology and its influence on the design of education spaces.
"The primary results of my research were that students of all kinds learn best through curiosity, not compulsion, and that they are capable of teaching themselves an incredible amount through small peer groups if the teacher changes his/her role from captain to co-conspirator," Blaisdell told the University News Service. "The design for the Furi School attempts to allow for this hands-on learning through a number of loosely connected and easily transformable spaces within a cohesive structure."
Blaisdell continues to be involved in the design of the Furi School and is also involved with a second design project in Africa, working on preliminary designs for a new cancer treatment center at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center outside Moshi, Tanzania.
- "U of M architecture school graduate works on school project in Ethiopia" by Brian Johnson, Finance & Commerce
- World Architecture News.com: "Architecture graduate takes on large scale development project in Ethiopia"
- UMNews release: "University of Minnesota architecture student helps design school and clinic in Ethiopia"