An open international contest has been announced to design a secondary school in the rural community of Benga, Malawi (Deadline: 20 March)
Open to students and practising architects, the competition seeks innovative proposals for a secondary school initially featuring one classroom for each of its four year groups but capable of expanding to up to 12 classrooms at a later stage.
The Education for the Future project will deliver a landmark secondary school on a roadside plot on the fringes of the Nkhotakota District village next to Benga Parish, a missionary community of Saint Paul the Apostle. Proposals must harness local materials and construction methods.
According to the brief: ‘Universal education, gender equality and empowering women are vital components of the mission in developing countries. Educating children helps reduce poverty and will give the next generation the tools to fight poverty and conquer disease. School also offers children a safe environment, with support, supervision and socialization.
‘Here they learn life skills that can help them prevent diseases, including how to avoid HIV/AIDS and malaria. Children may receive life-saving vaccines, fresh water and nutrient supplementation at school. The aim of this project is to provide a better education to the youngest citizens of the country by giving them the opportunity to access a decent secondary school infrastructure.’
Malawi – formerly a British colony – became an independent country in 1964. Today the landlocked 118,000km2 state is home to around 18 million people, is heavily reliant on agriculture and remains one of the world’s least developed countries.
The competition, organised by Archstorming, aims to boost educational opportunities for young people in remote rural communities.
Proposals should harness local materials such as clay, stone, timber and iron; integrate water storage and solar photovoltaics; and deploy easy-to-use construction methods.
Concepts should include four classrooms, a teachers’ office, computer room, library, laboratory, animal area, multi-purpose space, toilets, administrative offices, meeting spaces and storage areas.
Judges include Kenneth Kim of New York-based MOREMAS Architecture, Teresa Garolera from the NGO Active Africa, and Steven Ochieng from the Missionary Community of St Paul the Apostle. Registration fees range from €50 to €150 and the total potential prize fund is €20,000 depending on the number of participants.
The overall winner, to be announced 3 April, will receive up to €10,000 and see their scheme constructed by the NGO Active Africa and the missionary community of Saint Paul Apostle. Construction is expected to commence late next year.
How to apply
The deadline for applications is 20 March
€80 to €150
Visit the competition website for more information
Q&A with Roser Juny
The co-founder of Archstorming discusses her ambitions for the competition
Why are you holding a competition for a new school in rural Benga, Malawi?
We are holding a competition for a new secondary school in Benga, Malawi, because we believe in the need to help underdeveloped countries. Archstorming has always been really keen on collaborating in humanitarian projects and that’s why we thought about the opportunity of showing the best design ideas while contributing in the third world countries’ development.
African School Project: Education for the future is a contest organised in collaboration with Active Africa, an NGO based in Barcelona. They were planning on building a new school in Malawi and we decided that it could be great to give them ideas from all around the world on how to do so. The Archstorming team spent a month in the project site to work alongside the local project managers and make sure the competition requirements were aligned with the real needs of the African citizens.
The world is a global place. That is why this competition is international and open to everyone, the more people thinking ideas to improve the world, the better.
What is your vision for the new school?
The aim of the secondary school is not only to make a quality architecture space but also to respond to a problem of the whole African continent. The lack of secondary schools in these areas is a big issue and we should be conscious that education is the best way to reach improvements in the future.
We are talking about a school program that must include four classrooms, library, laboratory, computers room, meeting room, teacher’s office, director office, multi uses space, animals space, dry latrines, dormitories for the students, 12 houses for the teachers who will be living there… and this must fit in a 10,000m² area.
The challenge is to make this construction possible using local materials and local constructive systems, but innovation aspects will also be taken into consideration. Participants must be aware of not only their budget as one of the most important points of the project, but also (and non-less important) aspects such as the climate, sustainable issues.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
This competition is open to either architecture professionals or students. However, we also encourage other artists and designers to submit their proposals, since this is not only an architectural challenge but a social challenge where everyone can express their knowledge and ideas.
This contest is an opportunity to show the world how things can change through architecture. It is not only about buildings, it is about creating spaces and improving life quality for the most vulnerable ones.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
Archstorming has always been focused on helping the world through architecture. We have organised several ideas competitions but now our focal point is partnering with NGOs so the winning proposals of our next competitions can actually be built.
Are there any other recent Malawian school projects you have been impressed by?
Unfortunately, Malawi is one of the least developed and poorest countries in the world. For this reason, the schools they already have are very basic. That is why we think it is a country with a lot of opportunities in the architecture field.
However, in our trip to Malawi we did have the chance to also visit neighbour countries, and we were particularly impressed by the architect Urko Sanchez, who has designed several buildings in Kenya and other African countries, and whose architecture is very inspiring and could definitely be used as a good reference to be applied in Malawi.