design/build studio
making places with people for people

We aim to design/build meaningful projects that are simple – buildable – fun – that empower students and end users to take pride in their project.  We develop skills in everyone involved and maintain relationships, projects and people.

The design/build studio is a network of teachers, makers, designers and students who work together to learn, question, and make University of Nottingham Department of Architecture and Built Environment, the DB studio works with long time partners The Thusanang Trust, Education Africa, and Studio 8Fold.

Over more than a decade the studio has worked to be a positive contributing member of the communities in and around Hanertsburg, Limpopo South Africa. The db studio, Thusanang, and Education Africa have been collaborating for more than a decade to deliver improved facilities for early childhood education centres. 

How we work
Our projects are concentrated in the communities around Tzaneen and Hanertsburg, South Africa. We focus on this area in particular as it the long-term relationships, knowledge and experiences that we have gained over a decade that allow us to continually improve, and to learn from our partners from a position of trust. This trust – placed in us from kids, parents, teachers, and our partners is our most important asset – and we continue to try to deserve this trust with every project.

Students, enrolled in an architecture course at the University of Nottingham, spend the Autumn semester designing the creche proposals from concept to detail. These are reviewed by structural engineers, early childhood education experts, and ultimately the head teacher. Students in the Spring term raise the money to travel and support the build, and in March/April, students commit to two weeks of construction. After a combined effort of four to six weeks, the creche is opened by the local government.