It’s easy to think that 3D printers are only good for churning out small, block-like shapes. At the height of their functionality, and when used to their fullest potential, 3D printers can create entire buildings, and even help alleviate a humanitarian crisis. Maggie Grout, funder of the nonprofit Thinking Huts, is planning to use 3D printers to build schools that serve children with little to no access to education in Madagascar.

3-D printed school in Madagascar 4

Photo: Thinking Huts/Facebook

Grout partnered with design agency Studio Mortazavi to create the world’s first 3D-printed school, set on four acres of land on Madagascar. Slated to open in winter 2021-22, the pilot school will be built on the university campus of Ecole de management et d’Innovation Technologique to serve local Malagasy students.

3-D printed school in Madagascar 2

Photo: Thinking Huts/Facebook

The 3D-printed school will have a beehive design that allows multiple schools to be attached — with buildings for libraries, physical education, music, and the arts. Each structure will be outfitted with vertical farms and solar panels, as well as walls created by the 3D printer.

3-D printed school in Madagascar 3

Photo: Thinking Huts/Facebook

The aim of the Thinking Huts project is to inspire innovation and create opportunities for children in Madagascar, and eventually to build a Thinking Hut in every community where children don’t have access to education. “The need for education infrastructure in Madagascar — and around the world — is enormous,” says Grout, “and our concept is scalable as we continue to build schools with communities where they are needed most.”