Abide — Architecture Competition by UNI.xyz

Rethinking Modular student hostel design challenge — ‘Board’ Design Challenge by UNI

Fig: 1 — Villages and cities are set in the diverse topography of Nepal, far and wide.


Nepal is a landlocked nation that is known for its diverse terrain, with many mountain ranges that are the highest in the world. It is home to various tourist attractions, fuelling the economic progress in the region.

Like any developing nation, its economic development is shaped by the social, political, and cultural factors of the region. The internal landscape of Nepal is on occasions, in turmoil, but the education crisis is a constant issue. Out of a population of 29 million, only a little more than half of the population is literate.

While the political instability and environmental disasters of earthquakes have had the deepest impact on the education system in the country, the policies and infrastructure of this system are also found to be seriously lacking. While the facilities are adequate in urban areas, they are of little importance since as of 2018, 80.26% of the population in Nepal was residing in rural areas.

Fig: 2 — There is a lack of supplies, teachers, and shelters for students of education institutes throughout Nepal. (Credits: Nepal Nash)


Besides being a mostly rural country, the education services in many areas are sufficient, but the continuance of education among the students is a real challenge. The drop-out rates of lower secondary and secondary students are on the rise even in present times.

Access to education facilities is a primary issue in the nation. Since institutes are lesser in number and located at a fixed site, children are required to travel far and wide to avail these services.

Most people living in and around the area are ridden with poverty, and acquiring a home or shelter is their highest priority. Here, the education of dependents gets neglected. The travel costs and time are high and this investment is seldom afforded by local people.

How can we solve the issue of access to educational services?

Fig: 3 — The boost in literacy rates will eventually lead to economic progress in the country. (Credits: UNICEF Nepa/2017/NShrestha)

Can we build a space that serves as a medium of easy accessibility?

Brief: The challenge is to design a modular hostel for the students of an educational institute in the country of Nepal.

The design of the hostel must be modular and made with locally available materials and technology. It must be inexpensive and easy to build with local labor. The living facility must be of minimal standards, with care taken to ensure the well-being of its inhabitants.

The design is proposed in the earthquake-prone country of Nepal, so preventive measures are to be undertaken in the hostel design. The comfort of occupants and convenience of use must be achieved in this minimalistic design. The challenge aims to help increase the enrolment and attendance of students in rural areas in Nepal.

The users occupying this facility are mostly children from primary to high school so the design must incorporate features of safety and security as a priority.


  • Modular: The design of the structure has to be customizable to different contexts and requirements.
  • Agile: The construction of the structure can be done with local labor and minimum time.
  • Cost-effective: Local materials and techniques must be used so that the construction requires fewer funds but operates at maximum efficiency.
  • Context: The design must respond to the (existing) site conditions. The wider socio-cultural, economic and environmental settings are to be considered in the design approach.
  • Upgradable: The design must be expandable or transformable, if required, under certain circumstances.


Fig: 4 — Site image

Bhaktapur, Nepal

The city is in the Kathmandu Valley about 13 kilometers from the capital city. The culture is vibrant with many landmarks, temples, and spots around attracting visitors. The governmental schools in Bhaktapur are making remarkable improvements in their educational quality.

The government schools have been starting to facilitate students by teaching in both English and Nepali mediums. The area of the space is to be restricted to 200 square meters. This site area is mentioned as per the context of the building. The design must be modular so that it can be replicated in different locations across the country as per the occupancy requirement.

  • Site area = 334 sq.m
  • Maximum Built Up Area = 200 sq.m
  • Max FAR = 0.6
  • Height restriction = 6 metres
  • Coordinates = 27°40'43.1"N 85°26'37.6"E


The hostel is to be designed for students coming from all over the capital city of Nepal and nearby villages/regions for a stay of 8 months. The recommended age band we propose is 5yrs — 15yrs. You may flexibly choose an age band of your choice based on the concept — but the quantities shall be met.

Children: Age group of 5yrs — 15yrs (Suggested)- 60–80 children (Expandable to 100)

Managers/supervisors: 1–2

Support: 2–3 support personnel or more depending on the design.

Services/Security: 4–6 service personnel or more depending on the design.

Space ideas:

Spaces to stay 50%: Rooms (with study area, sleeping area) ~ 60 rooms

Common washrooms 20%

Recreational 15% Cafeteria, Outdoor/Play areas

Administration 10% Office, Guard offices, Meeting area

Maintenance and Utility 5%

The following programmatic outline is the point to begin your design at. You can add more functions and activities in relevance or modify the given design program.

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this

page: Board | Residential Building Competition on UNI | About

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Originally published at https://uni.xyz.



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