Anna Heringer, born October 1977, grew up in Laufen, a small town at the Austrian-Bavarian border close to Salzburg. At the age of 19 she lived in Bangladesh for almost a year, where she had the chance to learn from the NGO Dipshikha about sustainable development work. The main lesson was the experience, that the most successful development strategy is to trust in existing, readily available resources and to make the best out of it instead of getting depended on external systems. Eight years later, in 2005, she tried to transfer this philosophy into the field of architecture. Together with Eike Roswag and a team of Bangladeshi and German craftsmen she realized the Meti School in Rudrapur, Bangladesh, that she has designed in 2004 as diploma project at the University of Arts in Linz.

Anna Heringer - Proyectos

METI school

Architects: Anna Heringer, Eike Roswag Design/Concept: Anna Heringer Technical Planning: Eike Roswag

Location: Rudrapur, Dinajpur district, Bangladesh 

Year: 2005-2006

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By the Architects:

"The final result (...) is a building that creates beautiful, meaningful and humane collective spaces for learning, so enriching the lives of the children it serves." [Jury of The Aga Khan Award for Architecture 10th Circle] Rudrapur lies in the north of the most densely populated country on the earth. Poverty and the lack of an infrastructure drive many people from the countryside into the cities. The local NGO Dipshikha attempts to follow new paths with its development programme: the intention is to give the rural population perspectives and to help people learn about the value of the village in all its complexity. Part of this is a special school concept that instils in the children self-confidence and independence with the aim of strengthening their sense of identity. "The design solution may not be replicable in other parts of the Islamic world, as local conditions vary, but the approach - which allows new design solutions to emerge from an in-depth knowledge of the local context and ways of building - clearly provides a fresh and hopeful model for sustainable building globally." [Jury of The Aga Khan Award for Architecture 10th Circle] "Being a Bangladeshi it really makes us proud when we see that we have got so many 'unique' materials and contexts to work with... and your work was particularly inspiring!!! so next autumn... it would to great if I get the opportunity to work with you." [Zaqiul, student of architecture, Dhaka, Bangladesh] "It was good to do tests and experiments together before starting the real construction, so we could understand it although we did not know the language. And everybody learnt a lot from each other. I learned how to build strong walls, how to use measurement tools and the foreigners learnt, that the best mixing machines are water buffalos." [Suresh, loam worker, Rudrapur, Bangladesh] "Dear Anna-Didimoni, Hello, how are you? And what are you doing? I hope you are well. I am also well. Didimoni, we are very proud of you for making the building. I think no other building is as good as this building. It is very comfortable. In summer it is so cold, so it is very enyojable. O.k., didimoni, next news..." [Poritosh, METI student, Rudrapur, Bangladesh] "All too often, aspirations towards modernity in developing countries have malign economic and cultural effects where construction is concerned. Traditional materials and techniques are abandoned in favour of the import of expensive and sometimes energy-inefficient materials and products, benefiting only manufacturers in more advanced economies. The outcome can at worst be the imposition of alien buildings, forms and materials which don't last long and are difficult to maintain. Their only merit is to look new for a time. By contrast, this joyful project, in a poor rural area of Bangladesh (said to be the world's most densely populated country), shows that new and refreshing local identity can be achieved by exploiting the immediate and the readily available (...)." [Paul Finch, Architectural Review, UK] "Learning with joy is the school's philosophy - the best for me is to see the building crowded with sprightly kids, who are really happy to go to school. It is primarily not the architecture that makes something special - it's the people: everyone who worked on it with all efforts and potentials and all who live in it and fill the space with atmosphere." [Anna Heringer] For more information about METI please visit the website of Shanti - Partnerschaft Bangladesh e.V.:

DESI Trainingcenter, Rudrapur, Bangladesh

Architects: Anna Heringer,

Location: Rudrapur, Dinajpur district, Bangladesh 

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By the Architects:

Self-sufficiency and appropriateness The DESI building is a new interpretation of the traditional Bangladeshi homestead. Typically in rural Bangladesh all of the various household functions - eating, sleeping, washing, etc. - are performed in separate structures that are built around a central courtyard. The DESI building, however, attempts to incorporate all of the functions of working and living into a single structure. The design is geared toward a lifestyle that is no longer linked with agriculture, but still linked to the rural context and culture. DESI (Dipshikha Electrical Skill Improvement) is a vocational school for electrical training. The DESI building houses two classrooms, two offices, and two residences for the school instructors. There is a separate bathroom with two showers and two toilets for the teachers and a bathroom facility with toilets and sinks on the ground floor for the students. 

Three Hostels in Baoxi, a village in China

Architects: Anna Heringer

Location: Baoxi, China 

Year: 2013-2016

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By the Architects:

The three hostels - the dragon, the nightigale and the peacock - aim to show a quite radical example of building simple yet poetic and humane in a way that it pushes the skills of local craftsmen onto a new level and leaves the biggest part of the profit with the community. The clients and initiators of this project as well as my aim is to proof that we can create safe, beautiful and humane architecture with natural building materials, in this case particulary with bamboo. With our planet`s limited resources it is not possible to build for seven billion people safe and good houses in steel and concrete only. The use of natural building materials is vital in order to enable a sustainable and fair development. Natural materials such as bamboo and mud often have a bad image. We need pilot projects like the one in the Bamboo Biennale to proof the excellent structural quality as well as their beauty and uniqueness in order to anchor them in contemporary architecture. Using non standardized, natural, local building materials will lead to more diversity in urban and rural regions, will enrich the culture of China`s contemporary architecture and preserve our planet`s ecosystem. 

Anandaloy: Centre for People with disabilities + Dipdii Textiles studio

Architects: Anna Heringer 

Location: Rudrapur, Dinajpur district, Bangladesh 

Year: 2017-2019

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By the Architects:

The Anandaloy Building hosts a center for people with disabilities combined with a small studio for the production of fair textiles (Dipdii Textiles).

For Studio Anna Heringer, architecture is a tool to improve lives. The strategy of all of the projects no matter if in European, Asian or African context is the use of local materials + local sources of energy (including manual labor) + global know-how. Because the Anandaloy project is mainly built out of mud and bamboo from local farmers, the biggest part of the budget was invested in local crafts(wo)men. Thus, the building is much more than just a structure, it became a real catalyst for local development.

This project is the accumulation of the learning process of all the five previous projects in Rudrapur, including METI School. Unlike the other projects that were under German supervision, the site was managed by the Bangladeshi contractor, Montu Ram Shaw and the team of the mud and bamboo workers from the village, including some persons with disabilities. As for Studio Anna Heringer know-how transfer is key, this project is a great proof that the knowledge is now really rooted.

Often viewed as an outcome of bad Karma from past life, disabilities in Bangladesh are rather hidden, than included. Besides this poverty forces every grown-up member in the family to work and mostly people with disabilities are left on their own during the day. Places for therapy are rare in the country and not existing at all in that rural area of Rudrapur.

In the beginning the building was planned as a therapy center only, but we were able to extend the building into another story, hosting Dipdii Textiles, a studio for the female tailors in the village. This part of the building’s programme is co-initiated and taking care by Studio Anna Heringer in order to allow women to find work in their villages. It is an effective counteract to the urban-rural migration. The concept was also not only to provide therapeutic treatment for the people with disabilities, but also provide them an opportunity to learn and work in that building and engage in the community there. Everybody wants to be needed.

As a visible sign of this inclusion a big ramp winds up the first floor. It is the only ramp in that larger area. Already during the construction, it has been topic of discussions amongst the many local visitors that are coming to see the site. What is the reason for that ramp? Why is it important to guarantee access to everyone, no matter if healthy or not? How can the lives of people with disabilities be improved? How can inclusion be incorporated?

The building`s architecture explores the plastic abilities of mud in order to create a stronger identity. Mud is regarded as poor and old-fashioned material and inferior to brick for example. But to us, Studio Anna Heringer, it doesn’t matter how old the material is, it is a matter of our creative ability to use it in a contemporary way. To show the beauty and capacity of mud, it is needed to bring out the best of it and not just to treat it as a cheaper version to brick. With that particular mud technique, called cob, no formwork is needed and curves are just as easy to be done than straight walls. Unlike the other buildings in that area that are erected in a rectangular layout, the Anandaloy Building breaks out of the mold. It dances in curves, the ramp winds playfully around its inner structure. On a symbolic level the building signals: it is great that we human beings are all different. With its joyful curves it radiates the message: diversity is wonderful!

Educational Training Campus, Tatale, Ghana

Architects: Anna Heringer 

Location: Tatale, Ghana

Year: 2020

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By the Architects:

This project is for Tatale community, a sustainable teaching, learning, training and production centre at the northeast of Ghana on the Togo border. It is run by the Salesians with their Don Bosco mission.

There will be a school to learn sustainable construction techniques such as adobe masonry, rammed earth, timber structures etc., a school for agriculture and the production of local agricultural products, an electrical training centre, domestic economy and healthy nutrition as well as student dorms, a community hall, library and teacher accommodations. Through this vocational training the young people are to be enabled to secure the living for the families and to counteract the problem of rural exodus and emigration.

For decades, construction in the context of international aid has predominantly followed a specific pattern: foreign organizations erect their structures, based on a simple grid pattern and made of industrialized, often imported materials, in the midst of vernacular buildings. Development projects do not typically incorporate endogenous potentials or valuable local building traditions. Yet since these initiatives originate from wealthy and powerful parts of the world, the imported materials become status symbols: strength and stability, power, education, prosperity.

This project aims to develop an alternative. Building with natural materials, such as earth, maximizes the potentials of freely available resources and creates employment opportunities. As a result, investments in the built environment generate returns in both environmental and social capital.

This is what we call architecture for development.

It is a pilot project within the Catholic Church to find an enhanced way of building that fully respects the cultural context and identity, the embedded wisdom in vernacular structures and build with the natural and locally available building materials in order to keep the added value for the local people and rural area.

“Even the first glance at the floor plan, at the idea of ​​architecture shows that an architect is not looking for self-realization, but is building on cultural, social, human, craft and sustainable foundations with love and sensitivity. The shapes, the spaces dance and swing, not European grid-based thinking or maximizing, but cheerfulness and light-heartedness speak from the design.

It will certainly be a very exciting architecture, that still draws its strength from the tradition and knowledge of the people and the region.”

Peter Reischer

Video about the classroom and workshop 

Video about the boarding school

Cortijo La Donaria, Ronda, Spain

Architects: Anna Heringer, Martin Rauch

Location: Ronda, Spain

Year: 2020

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A new cortijo for La Donaria (Ronda, Spain) is currently being designed, making use of the beautiful dark red soil of the site. Updates will come soon..

Anna Heringer- En MCH

MCH Experience

It is designed as an experimental workshop: less plans but lots of dirt.

The method „Clay-storming“, developed with Martin Rauch, was used at MCH. This is a more intuitive approach to building and designing.
It is often rather sad that all the great researches and analyses seam to end up in grids and blocks and same-looking facades, and although for sure those systems work well, not everybody can really embrace them with their hearts. Why to design like that, while in our holidays we go to historic towns in Europe or vernacular villages in Africa or Asia? There must be a way to get this quality again in our designs.

It is probably a lot the question of materiality and the process of building, that’s why a part of the workshop deals with earth architecture (how to build with earth), but a big part is an intuitive and emotional search for quality of spaces. It’s about avoiding the difference in designing for poor countries or for rich – since inhabitants in Europe or richer parts of the world have no rights to consume more resources than those living in poor countries, just because they can afford it.
So it is about philosophical discussions around sustainability and housing, a training of common sense logic, but less analysing.
A site in Africa is chosen: Makeni, in Sierra Leona.


The workshop starts working with the clay in a more abstract way to get a feeling for that material (free shapes and fantasy houses), just to get the creativity in flow and to learn a bit the techniques and then gradually scale up to free urban patterns.

During the second day, an emotional research is done to find out which are the spaces that participants liked when they were between 5 - 9 years old. These experiences are often rather archaic, and more or less very similar - no matter which cultural context we talk about. The task is to go back to childhood memories, to find out how were these spaces in the early childhood, make collages, sketches models, etc... and also to find these spaces represented in the city.


During the third day, free clay works are done. Just at the fourth day, information about the site and technical informations about earth architecture are given.


On the fifth day presentations take place around the working models, including sketches, floor plans, sections, ideas, collages…  which represent the architectonical spaces resulting.



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