The students' initial investigations began where the Ministry of Education's standard school plans leave off–by responding to the challenges currently found on the ground in Afghanistan. The students found that most schools do not accommodate a growing student population, nor do they offer comfortable learning conditions. Schools are typically hot during the summer months, and cold in the winter. Preliminary studies conducted by the studio showed that by employing low-tech, passive strategies such as solar orientation and thermal storage techniques, the school could remain comfortable even in below freezing conditions.
The students also considered the lack of modern construction materials in Afghanistan, and found that combining indigenous building materials with contemporary methods could offer new possibilities for economical construction.