The Legson Kayira Community Center & Primary School

This project was a design & build project by Architecture for a Change. The building was pre-manufactured in Johannesburg at our workshop and then transported to Malawi. The containers used for transport was integrated into the design. The school is completely off the grid. Community involvement and training was one of the top priorities.

Malawi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Malawi is among the world's least-developed and most-densely populated countries. Around 85% of the population live in rural areas. The economy is based on agriculture, and more than one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues come from this. Malawi was ranked the 119th safest investment destination in the world in the March 2011 Euromoney Country Risk rankings.

This building explores the possibility of the school as a covered canopy. It offers a larger covered area that provides shade, open, well-lit and well ventilated spaces. The structure becomes very efficient in terms of material vs. covered square meterage, and becomes itself a visual icon. Shade netting, lightweight steel, local masonry and corrugated iron form the architectural language of the building. Local masonry is used to create vertical louvers on the exterior of the classrooms to act as shading devices and structural support for the roof. The roofs have a slight fall to drain water into the gutters which feed the water tanks.

Furthermore the building includes the use of refurbished shipping containers as these are structurally sound elements that have duality of function. Firstly as a transportable element, and secondly, as a shell and anchor for a new structure. One side of the container is removed, Locally manufactured bricks and pavers will be incorporated into the structure. By utilizing locally manufactured materials, it provides the people with a sense of ownership and softens the container as a foreign contextual element. The over-all feel of the building is light yet permanent and with the outer facade adjustable, provides the user with freedom in terms of spatial layout and climatic comfort.