Chitakale community centre

Once long ago I had a dream, to go to Africa as a dentist and help the people.
But how can an architect help in Africa? I learned people don’t need buildings to be given to them, they only might need some knowledge if they please so.
But then what? You have to have a design to be able to finish your studies.
I decided to pick a place, go there and find out what would be a wanted building design. In the small village Chitakale Trade Centre near Mulanje Mountain, Malawi, I did interviews, observations and a workshop with schoolchildren. I came to a design that supported both what was strongest already in the village, the trade, and what was wished for most, vocational training.
A market hall with possibilities for several levels of trade is combined with a training centre with classrooms, lecture spaces and workshops. In between a passive and an active connection is designed; a large pond just to sit at and stare to the other side, and next to it a cinema annex theatre.
The complex is like a stage to it’s users, a concrete flap with small buildings on it as it’s decor, expandable if the users please. The thatched roofs reintroduces a technique that is almost forgotten. Beams and columns are made of the non-indigenous pine trees, and water is filtered and collected under the pond in the middle. In years to come the now plane white walls will undoubtedly get many colourful, cheery paintings of cell phones and bottles of coke.

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