Madagascar is home to the world's second 3D-printed school (Credit: BOTO Friddet/ Thinking

The beautiful island country of Madagascar has a dire school shortage. About a third of Malagasy children have no access to education because the schools are too far away or severely overcrowded. Thinking Huts, a non-profit dedicated to increasing global access to education, believes that 22,000 new schools are needed to fulfill the demand. The organization plans to tackle the issue with a series of 3D-printed schools, the first of which was completed in April 2022.

The 765-square-foot honeycombed structure, named Bougainvillea, is located on a university campus in Fianarantsoa, a town in south-central Madagascar. It was developed in partnership with 14Trees, which built the world's first 3D-printed school in Malawi in July 2021. The single-story school will house 30 engineering students.

The 3D printer completed the walls of the school in 18 hours (Credit: Mattea LinAe/Thinking Huts)

The construction began with the printer pouring a cement-like mixture in a pattern to create the walls. The entire process took just 18 hours! Once the cement dried, a Madagascan crew swooped in to attach the locally manufactured roof, door, and windows.

The pilot project took three weeks from start to finish and cost $300,000. Half the cost went towards the printer rental and equipment transportation. Maggie Grout, the 22-year-old founder of Thinking Huts, hopes to reduce the cost of future schools by raising funds to purchase a 3D printer.

Maggie Grout (L) founded Thinking Huts when she was 15 (Credit: Thinking Huts)

Grout, a senior at the University of Colorado, Boulder, was just 15 when she started Thinking Huts. Adopted from a rural village in China when she was 18 months old, Grout realized that not all kids were as fortunate and wanted to help. The idea for the 3D-printed schools came to her after brainstorming with her father on ways to use the technology for the greater good.