© Studio MDA
© Studio MDA

Raising Malawi Academy for Girls

Surrounded by the rolling fields, mango trees and single track lanes of beautiful Malawi sits a charity’s masterplan for a girls’ academy with a focus on sustainability. Madonna’s charity ‘Raising Malawi’ sought our expertise alongside New York architects Studio MDA on masterplans for seven schools on a site 20 km north of Lilongwe.

The scheme is set to incorporate a range of buildings spread across a 46-hectare site, including classrooms, dormitories, a central library and staff housing. These are positioned apart to give a feeling of space alongside halls for dining, sports and assemblies. To increase the ease of building and improve economy we have advised on methods of producing a template for each building type. These will be used to replicate certain building types: for example there is a single prototype for the dormitory which is repeated twelve times to provide sufficient dormitory space for the entire scheme. The hope is that with the success of this prototype strategy, these templates can be reused on a nationwide scale.

Another key ambition for the project is to maximise the use of local labour and materials. For this reason we have adopted readily available concrete frame alongside Hydraform infill blocks for the structure. This material, commonly used in Malawi, improves the buildability of the project due to local knowledge; Soil Stabilised Blocks, the original preference, would have brought with them several construction limitations, which Hydraform blocks can overcome.

Taking into account the climate, we have designed a protective coating and a large roof overhang to protect the blocks during seasonal downpours, as well as movement joints to reduce excessive cracking. TJI roofs with stressed plywood decking will act as diaphragms, transferring their load down the columns which cantilever to the Hydroform blocks from lintel level.

Madonna’s masterplan for seven new sustainable schools near Lilongwe in Malawi

Raising Malawi
Studio MDA