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Laboratorio del bosque en la comunidad nativa de Mencoriari

Asociación Semillas para el desarrollo sostenible

Pangoa, Satipo/Junín, Peru

June 2022


Marta Maccaglia (Director, architecture and management), Giulia Perri (Coordination, architecture and management)


Angela Milagros Yangali Pareja (Participatory design, Plans detail development, water system design and construction (AWA),), Arianna Bordignon (Participatory design, Construction assistant), Chiara Bonfiglio (Participatory design), Denise Covassin (Participatory design)


We-Building e.V.


Eleazar Cuadros


The project was developed through a participatory methodology involving workshops with students, families, and teachers to understand the needs of the community. This led to an architectural design that interprets the dreams of its inhabitants, creating a versatile space for the production and transmission of knowledge about the forest.
The programmatic proposal includes a classroom/workshop for the drying of medicinal plants and an "open classroom" for research on natural medicine, agriculture, and forest resources. The building, located on the southwest side of the site, integrates with the natural environment, utilizing local materials such as community wood and transparent polypropylene on the walls and roof.
The central space houses a storage area and an office, while the corridors become lively spaces for the exhibition of forest knowledge. The "open classroom" features benches for meetings and a projection board. The drying room/lab, on the left side of the plot, serves as a production and learning space, with a wooden structure for hanging plants and roots, a large door for ventilation, and a rainwater collection system for irrigation and cleaning.
In summary, the project ingeniously merges architectural functionality, environmental responsibility, and social commitment, offering an innovative educational space that meets the specific needs of the community.


The intervention unfolds within the secondary school of the CN Nomastiguenga of Mencoriari, situated in the rural district of Pangoa, within the central Peruvian jungle. This region, characterized by extreme poverty, has historically endured exclusion and discrimination against Amazonian indigenous populations. Despite its abundant environmental and cultural wealth, the community grapples with the gradual erosion of ancestral knowledge and environmental preservation practices, imperilling its intangible cultural heritage and future. Moreover, there is a structural deficiency in infrastructure and public services, such as secure schools and quality education.
The diagnostic assessment revealed significant deficiencies, including the absence of high-quality intercultural educational services designed to integrate students into a contextualized job market while incorporating indigenous cultural heritage. Furthermore, there is a limited understanding of existing legislation aimed at defending their rights.
Located in close proximity to the secondary school of the Native Community of Mencoriari, the project proposes a complementary educational space: a workshop dedicated to preserving ancestral knowledge of plants and the forest. Benefiting 58 students, 67 families from the community, and three neighbouring communities, it seeks to intertwine architectural and pedagogical space to foster an education that esteems local environmental and cultural richness, while providing access to employment opportunities.
This initiative not only addresses pressing educational needs but also safeguards indigenous knowledge and fosters sustainable development in the region.


We constructed the proposal alongside the school community, leaders, and parents. We explored their dreams, envisioning what truly should be learned and undertaken in this ancestral territory. This collective process has allowed the laboratory to assume, in the Mencoriari community, an educational role for all, a center for forest production and research, a space for intergenerational reunions between the community's sages and students, and an exhibition space for the forest.
Despite the spatial proposal breaking with the stereotype of technological classrooms in Peru, the local Ministry of Education, through its teachers, has integrated its school pedagogical proposal with the new infrastructure. This integration links the science and technology curriculum and Work Education with the forest knowledge.
The "open classroom" is currently used for training sessions and community meetings.
The plant laboratory is now the vibrant heart of the project: all surfaces, co-designed with students and wise elders, are used for the registration and transformation of medicinal plants. The structure is a living device serving to hang, dry, plant, exhibit, and record medicinal plants.
The project celebrates the convergence of ancient local knowledge with contemporary pedagogy—a space for the production of intangible heritage for environmental and cultural preservation.
Moreover, the construction of the building has fostered skill development within the community and has nurtured a strong sense of belonging. This initial analysis demonstrates how the project has exceeded expectations by becoming a valuable asset to the community, promoting education, cultural preservation, and local development.

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