top of page



Escuela Infantil en la comunidad de Cerro Colorado, Arequipa, Perú

Atelier Ander Bados, Estudio Copla

Cerro Colorado district, Arequipa, Arequipa, Peru

March 2022


Betsaida Curto Reyes / Estudio Copla (Architect), Ander Bados Sesma / Atelier Ander Bados (Architect)


Huber Grabiel Canchis Agreda (Technical architect), Maria Alejandra Ortiz (Technical architect), Dennis Mialki (Senior Technical Advisor), Victoria Arrighi (International Recovery Manager), Freddy Dario Barreto Huerta (Supervisor


All Hands and Hearts


Eleazar Cuadros


Set against the backdrop of two volcanoes we devised a school born from the earth. From the outset, our aim was for the community to feel a sense of ownership of the school. As the children spend many hours of the day between the classrooms and the kitchen, it was fundamental to provide areas of playfulness, dignity, and quality.

We aspired to design a common and neutral space, unassuming in its natural environment, where daily inequalities are not so latent and the pride of the community flourishes.
We chose building material directly associated with its surroundings. We aimed to achieve our goals by following the formal model of the existing school, using large beams and columns, flat roof, and exposed bricks.

Inside, we created spaces with clean lines, good natural lighting, cross ventilation, and air regeneration through the upper skylights, avoiding any need for mechanical ventilation. We exaggerated the importance of the concrete through a simple technique so that the new classrooms embody the reddish hue that gives Cerro Colorado its name.

The challenge was to achieve the same standard of facilities as the fee-paying schools but with reduced costs. Our final design reflects our understanding that excellence in architecture does not relate to wealth or territory.

We intended that this school is a milestone within the region, our philosophy being a work of architecture without branding or surnames (social, development cooperation), acknowledging architecture for what it is ... design, community, collectiveness.


After the floods suffered in Arequipa in 2013, the NGO All Hands and Hearts rebuilt the Villa Magisterial School, in the community of Cerro Colorado, in the northern cono of the city and at the foot of the Misti and Chachani volcanoes.

“Conos” in Peru are human settlements (established by migrants from the jungles and highlands) and erected on the outskirts of cities. These neglected areas have limited urban planning.

In 2020, following a growth in the number of students and a lack of available classrooms, it was necessary to intervene again.

After much observation, attempting to understand the environment, the traditions, and the construction systems, through meetings with the school personnel and local community we came together to identify their requirements.

The unusual personality of Cerro Colorado has been fashioned by various construction techniques, depending on the geographic origin of the builder.
Such diverse raw materials and influence has become the norm where contrasting styles of self-building converge.

Evolving this concept, we enhanced the materials in their most natural form; exposed brick, concrete, wood, calamine, metal. This equally meant meaningful cost savings without losing the essence of the materials and the architecture.

The only common denominator among all the previous constructions is the use of materials with no type of coating. With this in mind, we adopted it as our project model.

We aspired to design a common space, unassuming in its natural environment, where daily inequalities are not so latent and the pride of the community flourishes.


The school immediately performed as an upgrade to the prefabricated shed buildings which had housed the old classrooms. After the addition of this new building, the educational institution considerably increased its number of enrolments for early childhood education, as local parents tried to register their children in schools that offer better facilities.

Through its construction, it was possible to create a more functional and private space for the youngest children, whose needs differ from those of primary school students.

Equally we were able to improve the working conditions for the cooks, providing more space and comfort whilst they keep the youngsters fed. Likewise, a cool open-air area was designed so that the children could eat whilst enjoying the natural light from the midday sun.

The school has similarly generated a positive impact on the community, creating a greater sense of belonging and pride, which is why today school management has a high commitment to its maintenance and care.

Most notable is perhaps the sense of pride the teachers exude. Whilst not only providing a wonderful education for their children, they take great steps to share the school, entertain architectural visits and host events thus thriving and celebrating their new work environment.

bottom of page