A 15-year old Chinese immigrant, adopted as a baby by the creator of MapQuest, is using her adult-sized ambition to use 3D-printing to help more kids get an education in Madagascar.

Thinking Huts

Maggie Grout’s nonprofit is called “ Believing Huts” and they are fundraising to break ground on a collection of modular, honeycomb-shaped schools, powered by solar panels, that are the world’s first 3D-printed schoolhouses.

Hundreds of millions of children don’t have colleges to attend around the world, and Grout feels one of the best ways to solve the problem is by bringing down the building costs of schoolhouses. The first pilot Thinking Hut in Madagascar is expected to cost $20,000, and in a recent interview at the SmithsonianGrout details how, in addition to being half the price of traditional construction methods, 3D-printed buildings become more economical when the project is scaled.

In other words the first home may cost $20,000, but the more homes that are constructed, the cheaper they become.

Despite the pandemic, construction on the first hut is anticipated to begin in the summer on the college campus of Ecole de Management et d’Innovation Technologique in town of Fianarantsoa, home to about 200,000 people on the south end of the island.

The 3D-printer itself, at 6.5 feet, is being provided by Thinking Huts’ spouse Hyperion Robotics, a Finnish 3D-printing firm that builds a hodgepodge of different elements, such as building columns, patio furniture, as well as artificial coral reefs.

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We’ll use locally-sourced materials, staying conscious of our environmental impact, and execute more additive manufacturing processes as the technology advances, adapting to each communitys environment, reads their plan for Hut v1.0.

“Initial plans call for solar power, internet access, desks, chairs, and tables. The Hut is going to have a secure door and operating windows. ”

Other features include pockets of space on the outside of the walls, that can either be used for vertical farming or artificial rock climbing walls for the kids. The exterior will be decorated with traditional Malagasy textile patterns, and local materials like corrugated tin or wood carved by artisans.

Their honeycomb shape allows new huts to be added onto existing ones if the need for expansion arises.

Thinking Huts’ architect, Amir Mortazavi of the San Francisco Studio of the same name, wants to keep local aesthetic appeal, desiring a building that blends into its environment —more important than ever considering the sterile grey color of the 3D-printing material.

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“Deforestation is a significant problem in Madagascar, which retains a biodiverse ecosystem with many endemic species known only to the island,” Mortazavi told Architectural Digest. “ We’ll be making a reconnaissance trip there soon to find the most sustainable provider for our furniture supply in the near future when it’s possible and safe to travel there. ”

For finishing several schools, with travel, electrical and plumbing, and school supplies, Grouts charitya 501(c) 3has already raised $125,000. Not bad for a fifteen year-old.

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