Malawi Schools project

John McAslan + Partners, Chilbalu, 2010


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School facades and playground 

John McAslan + Partners     Download Original

  • School facades and playground    
  • School facades and playground    
  • Exterior facade    
  • Long elevation    
  • Facade showing shaded canopy    
  • Shutter and ventilation detail    
  • Exterior facade and link terrace    
  • Link terrace and double doors to classrooms    
  • Community using the building    
  • Interior classroom    
  • Interior classroom     
  • Map of school locations in Malawi    
  • Site plan    
  • Foundation plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Roof structure plan    
  • Section A-A    
  • Section B-B    
  • Section C-C    
  • Elevations    
  • Existing site plan    
  • Visualisation    
  • Visualisation    
  • Model    
  • Model    
  • Model    
  • Model    
  • Model    
  • Wall connections detail    
  • Door detail    
  • Column connections detail    
  • Rafter Connections detail    
  • Roof cover detail    
  • Eaves detail    
  • Roof fastening detail    
  • Perimeter detail    
  • Shutter detail    

Multifunctional buildings for both the children and local community that achieve four key aims to improve light and ventilation, use locally sourced materials and workers and reduce costs

The brief was to improve the quality of the light and environmental performance for the cost of an existing school at £6 per sq ft. This totalled £15,000 per school catering for about 170 children.

The orientation of the schools in relation to sun-paths and local prevailing winds, are key to the design and construction of individual schools. The building not only had to produce greatly improved internal light levels, better ventilation, and cooler temperatures, but also be configured so that the buildings could be used out of teaching hours as a meeting or activity point by local communities in rural areas.

The brief therefore required a school format that could be built using mostly locally available materials, and by local people. The aim was also to increase local skills and, by using common secondary species of timber rather than commercially valuable stock, mediate Malawi’s significant deforestation problem.

The schools central linking terraces, with double doors to classrooms on either side, are flanked by shaded spaces at either end. This creates five teaching spaces, and community-use terraces for multi-use.


  • Begun: Aug 2008
  • Completed: Aug 2010
  • Floor area: 232m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £15,000
  • Procurement: Traditional
  • Address: Kapondero, Kalula, Chilbalu, Malawi

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