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Girl Move Academy: RootStudio builds an educational space in Mozambique, with a sustainable footprint

Project name:
Girl Move Academy
Architecture firm:
RootStudio, Paz Braga Architecture
Nampula, Mozambique
Paz Braga
Principal architect:
João Boto Caeiro, Maria da Paz Braga
Design team:
João Boto Caeiro, Maria da Paz Braga, Brenda rove
Interior design:
RootStudio, Paz Braga Architecture
Built area:
1200 m²
Site area:
10,000 m²
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Nicolas Coello
Environmental & MEP:
Paz Braga
Tools used:
ABC - Mozambique
Brick, Wood, Stone, Steel
300.000 euros
Girl Move
Educational, Campus

The campus for the Girl Move Academy, in Africa, is a large-scale project that brings together social responsibility, sustainability and traditional construction techniques, all signatures of the Oaxaca-based architecture firm.

To build a multi-disciplinary space for education that fosters female empowerment to transform women into agents of change: this was the assignment RootStudio received for its first project for an eco- campus built with a sustainable vision, which has brought about a positive impact in Nampula, known as the northern capital of Mozambique.

The construction of the Girl Move Academy, led by architect João Cæiro Boteiro and developed in partnership with the architect Paz Braga, created a dignified location that is open to the community, where girls and young women can enjoyequal access to education and a mentoring system aimed at eradicating gender imbalances in a country where women face limited opportunities for comprehensive personal development.

The not-for-profit organization Girl Move was behind the creation of this eco-campus, where it implements activities thatact as factors of change in one of the poorest nations on the African continent, where 58 percent of the population is under the age of 19. On top of that, only 10 percent of women have the chance to access secondary education and only 1 percent a university degree.

For RootStudio, Girl Move Academy represented an exercise in socially responsible and sustainable architecture, bothsignatures of its multi-disciplinary practice. The design of the structure drew on the principle of efficient use of the 300-square-meter site and a limited budget, while taking into account the natural and climatic conditions of the region, including extreme heat.

RootStudio designed the building as a single volume with fresh areas for group activities with vaulted roofs and a garden inside, respecting and harmonizing with the surroundings. Light falls indirectly on the building interior, avoiding high temperatures without sacrificing natural illumination. To achieve this, wall apertures and pergolas are laid out to create a poetic play of light and shade that emphasizes the terracotta hues of the area.

The exteriors also provide areas sheltered by trees, such as the patio, an open-air classroom for a capacity of 50, and the plaza, before the main entrance, where end-of-course events and presentations are held.

The innovations applied by RootStudio include the fusion of traditional production techniques used for brickmaking in both Mexico and Mozambique, the latter characterized by the use of raw earth and a firing method that uses shells to reduce the requirement for wood.

Bricks were chosen as a building material accessible to the community and were enhanced by their arrangement in thewalls in patterns based on traditional textiles. They were made with earth extracted for the foundations, achieving significant savings and doubling the built area for the construction, which involved the participation of over 200 people, including students and local residents, who acquired bio-construction knowledge.

Natural materials were utilized for the interiors, such as timber for furniture and bookshelves, revealing the beauty of its grain, while diagonal and geometric motifs predominate on the door and window screens. The lighting design employs artisan basketry techniques to create multicolored lamps.

Since its inauguration in 2019, the Girl Move Academy has twice been nominated by ArchDaily as “Building of the Year” in the Educational Architecture category, bringing greater visibility to the cultural and artistic richness of the country.

In October 2021, the organization Girl Move received the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education for its contribu- tion to the empowerment of teenagers and young women, through female reference models and sisterhood circles.

With Girl Move Academy, RootStudio contributes to the future of education in Africa and proposes innovative solutions for sustainable, socially responsible architecture that works in harmony with the environment.


Based in Oaxaca City and directed by João Boto Cæiro, RootStudio was founded in 2009 as a multidisciplinary studio that encompasses architecture, design, illustration, painting, and sculpture.

Over more than a decade of work, RootStudio has forged a unique signature that distinguishes it for its striking projects in Mexico and other latitudes. Its portfolio showcases its versatility when it comes to the most varied types of projects, suchas residential buildings, productive and educational centers, sites for leisure and hospitality, whose common denominator lies in their harmonious integration with the landscape and a total commitment to social responsibility.

Entering a work by RootStudio means finding oneself in a dynamic, emotional atmosphere, where the pared-back simplicity is the result of a deep reflection on the mission of contemporary architecture.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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