‘School in Africa’ is the latest project from NUDES that envisions a new secondary school situated in Malawi. With the concept based on a ‘bottom-up’ design process, the scheme focuses on utilizing local materials and embracing vernacular architecture to create a building that aims to fit within the east-African context and encourage community participation.
NUDES has designed the architectural program to explore a variety of classroom environments and house functions such as administration spaces, computer rooms, a library, and a laboratory/research area. In addition, spaces for animals, multipurpose areas and residential components for students and teachers are planned within the scheme to provide a wide range of activities.
Responding to the requirements of the brief, the design focuses on modularity, incremental expansion, ease of deployment and sustainable technologies. A modular ‘ladder’ component is proposed to create a structural system that houses the pedagogical spaces of the school. This intervention is planned to be incrementally arrayed along a path to utilize indoor-outdoor learning environments, and the angle of the ‘ladder’ has been determined to explore both horizontal and vertical planes.
The ‘horizontal’ plane of the structure explores learning activities outside of the classroom, including spaces for amphitheatres, outdoor workshops and recreational activities. A single module composed of arrayed components is aggregated across the site to create a simple growth expansion strategy for the entire school.
Local infill materials, such as straw bale cubes that include voids for light and ventilation, are inserted into the surface of the structure to create a breathable skin. The entire system aims to seek ease of repair and future maintenance, advocating local construction practices. Most importantly, the design of the school embraces the role of vernacular architecture in shaping the future and is built on the cornerstones of ‘pedagogy’, ‘deployment’ and ‘sustainability’, promoting the use of local materials and community and student participation.
Project name: ‘School in Africa’
Project location: Malawi
Founder & principal: Nuru Karim
Design team: Nuru Karim, Dhruval Shah, Salai Vv, Aditya Jain, Uttara Rajawat, Anjana Varma, Rohit Dj
As seen on: Designboom