Burckhardt+Partner has released details of their proposed secondary school in Malawi. Finalists in a competition for the school’s design, the Burckhardt+Partner scheme embodies the old African proverb that it takes a community to educate a child, rather than simply the walls, roofs, and books of a school. The St. Paul’s new secondary school therefore embraces its community, inviting the adjacent parish and primary school to grow together as a village.
The “village” is an agglomeration of different uses, such as classrooms, dormitories, and houses. Though the program varies, all parts are built in the same way: variations or combinations of one single constructive unity respecting local resources and traditions.
The school’s walls are built from compressed clay bricks made by the local community. The bricks are 20x40x20cm, forming dramatic modular vaults covered by a light metal truss and tin metal roof. As well as ensuring water and heat protection, and rainwater harvesting, the tin roof also allows the implementation of solar panels. Terracotta floors are made from compressed soil according to local traditions and techniques.
The aim of the material palette is to profit from local resources and techniques, enhanced by technological thinking. A radial settlement concept plays a big role, allowing occupants to build gradually when necessary in a well-orchestrated sequence. The radial organization of the program also follows the existing topography, allowing the heart of the plot to open up to the wider community. The inner “heart zone” contains a sports courtyard serving the entire community and an open multipurpose space for gatherings and performances. Classrooms and complementary programs of the school are evenly distributed at either side of the scheme, promoting dialogue, exchange, and constant use of the central courtyard.
News via: Burckhardt+Partner