Geothermal school

Mongolia is featured by extreme climatic conditions with little rainfall and temperature changes from (-45) ◦C to (+20) ◦C. Up to two third of its land is not arable due to the weather conditions. It also has the lowest population density in the world with one third of the population lives in poverty and one third of the population is children.

Founded in 1950, Altai Tsast School is located in Khovd province in western Mongolia. The school is currently overloaded, with inadequate and downgraded infrastructure and insufficient ability to meet a number of 550 elementary school students. Therefore, the expansion and enhancement of learning space, physical education areas and toilets are of necessity for this place.


The dismantling of parts of the downgraded storehouse is conducted together with expanding new architectural space which connects with current classrooms through hallways. On a square ground (15mx15m), the comprehensive project serves as a playground on the roof where a variety of activities can take place such as song and music performance, physical education, outdoor ice skating, exhibitions. The slope of 16% on the roof on the one hand still ensures the normal occurrence of these activities. On the other hand, it does not obscure the windows for light penetration of the existing library.

Geothermal School is the name of the design which is based on the approach to promote and expand geothermal applications in architecture in Mongolia as well as countries with lasting cold climates and little rainfall and to consider geothermal energy the alternative source of the future. A 2 to 3 meter depth into the ground can help take the advantage of geothermal with the average temperature of (+10) ◦C all year round. As calculated, geothermal projects can save 30% - 40% of the consumed energy in comparison with other works, thereby significantly contributing to the reduction in environmental pollution.

The architectural space is designed to meet three criteria:

Adaptation to climate + Low costs + Users’ self-build

  1. 1. Adaptation to Climate: The project is placed under the ground surface and heated by the surrounding ground. Walls, doors and roofs have two layers of material, which allows a certain amount of air space in between to create optimal micro-climatic conditions for the indoor space in the coldest conditions.
  1. Low costs: The bricks (size 250x120x65 each) of the storehouse after removal are reused. Wood of low quality and traditional construction in the locality are also employed. As proposed, minimum materials are encouraged to achieve maximum use of space as well as to, at the same time, fully utilize it for multi- purposes: classrooms combined with entertainment area, physical education room with classroom or library, hallway with exhibition space, roofs with playground, .. (Total material costs: 51.381 USD)
  1. . Users’ self-build:: Người sử dụng được tiếp cận / giáo dục từ chính những ứng dụng về cách ứng xử của công trình với thiên nhiên, với cộng đồng địa phương. Cách học tốt nhất là Hãy làm nó! Việc tham gia vào quá trình xây dựng để tạo nên không gian đặc thù của địa phương mình là điều kiện thực hành tốt. Những giải pháp của công trình sẽ là những giáo trình giảng dạy hữu ích như: Năng lượng địa nhiệt, Vật lý (tán xạ ánh sáng), Khí động học (thông gió),.. Điều này sẽ ảnh hưởng tới định hướng hành động trong tương lai của người sử dụng, đóng góp một phần đáng kể vào sự phát triển cân bằng sinh thái cũng như sự ổn định về kinh tế.