African School Project
School is a time for inspiration, often symbolized by a tree. It is a place where we establish the roots of basic life principles and develop them into more complex ideas and knowledge of the world. School is where dreams are given shape and nurtured. For many of us, it is also our first interaction with institutions; a supportive school experience helps students establish positive feelings about community and government.
Our design for the Benga Parish School creates a promising, fun, and contextually relevant environment for learning, and a place that forges compelling memories. The school is organized around a courtyard, which is separated from the road by a long string of buildings. These conceptual ‘noodle-like’ buildings with tall ventilated roofs contain all of the group programs and dormitories. To the west of the courtyard lie the classrooms and to the east, the teachers’ houses.
In a nod towards the dream-like — or perhaps as if out of a fairy tale — our scheme 're-forests' the property with different trees, both real and Architectural. The real trees provide shade, fruit, and places to gather. The shorter Architectural trees are used as a roof structure for the classrooms while the tall Architectural trees introduce a scale evocative of playfulness and fantasy.
All buildings are simple aggregations of common materials and building practices found in Malawi. We are inspired by local textiles, furniture, buildings, and other crafts, and seek to incorporate many of these strategies into the proposed scheme. The classrooms integrate a bamboo weaving similar to the world-renowned Malawi chair for better ventilation while the porches on the teachers’ units are painted in bright patterns from Malawian fabrics.