Here at EarthTechling, we’ve always been fans of the shipping-container. Big, recycled and ubiquitous, we’ve featured all kinds of structures that incorporate them, from tiny houses made of just one to boxy residences (and even offices) composed of many. Now we bring you a smart new design built around the shipping container called the Launchpad, which comes with a big mission: to help children and teenagers from African communities virtually connect with mentors from around the world.
Designed by the green pros at Perkins + Will for Infinite Family, a U.S.-based nonprofit, the Launchpad is a prototype computer lab where young people in Africa can communicate with mentors via face-to-face interaction via high-speed Internet and video phones. Founded by Amy Stokes, Infinite Family focuses its efforts on connecting communities ravaged by HIV/AIDS in South Africa with employees and volunteers from 58 countries who teach, discuss, challenge, befriend, and encourage vulnerable adolescents through Internet mentoring. The Launchpad is intended to create a safe, comfortable, environmentally friendly setting for both kids and electronic equipment.
“One of the keys to successful mentoring is to have a place that is conducive to a good experience—a place that mentees want to go. Our LaunchPad is that place,” said Stokes, in a statement. “I thank Perkins+Will…for making all of this possible. They donated their time and services to create this wonderful facility on a pro-bono basis.”
The architectural illustrator behind the project, Mike Kane of Perkins + Will, was born in South Africa and had this to say about the non-profit: “Infinite Family’s pioneering work is an imaginative and far-sighted way to bring 21st-century technology, crucial skills, and global awareness to young people in extremely challenging situations.” Kane donated his time and knowledge to the project along with former Perkins+Will Senior Designer Scott Schiamberg, now Visiting Scholar at MIT School of Architecture.