In 2013, the Cotton On Foundation had a vision to deliver an inspiring and versatile extracurricular space for students of all ages to enjoy in Mannya village, Southern Uganda. Fast forward to today, and the multipurpose hall at St Bernard’s Secondary School, which was completed earlier this year, has just been named the ‘Best Institutional Building of the Year 2016’ by the Uganda Society of Architects.


We partnered with the community as well as Ugandan architects and contractors to deliver this inspiring space, sourcing local materials for the build. The amphitheatre is proving to be a lively hub for entertainment, hosting both live stage performances and communal events. The space, also serves as an assembly area and dining hall, catering to students in the village.

Inside of hall

A number of forward thinking sustainable technologies were employed in the construction, including a concealed rainwater harvesting system, collecting from the roof, solar chimneys in the kitchen to improve natural ventilation, and fuel-efficient firewood stoves. The angular positioning of wedge-shaped roof panes allows for increased natural light and aids in improving acoustics.

Group of people inside hall

Cotton On Foundation Project Operations Manager Sarah Spiker said, “we think this space is pretty magical, and it’s nice to know that we are not alone. This is one of the things we believe are important in the delivery of quality education – schools that everyone can be proud of and love to learn in.”

Inside of hall

The hall can accommodate up to 650 students at one time, and is frequently used by St. Bernard’s Secondary School students sitting their examinations. Teacher training sessions have also been conducted, with many participants travelling from surrounding villages enjoying the comfort of the hall.

  • Architect: Studio FH Architects
  • Structural Engineer: MBW Consulting
  • M&E Engineer: BES Consult
  • Quantity Surveyor: Dudley Kasibante and Partners
  • Contractor: Trust Builders
  • Photography: Will Boase Photography


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