BENGA SCHOOL PROJECT
[ben mcmillan, dequales thompson]
The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it. ~ Kalpana Chawla (Astronaut)
The Benga Parish Secondary School is a community-oriented space designed to educate Malawian youth. The concept of this campus finds its origin in the representation of life as a journey along a path. The work seeks to symbolize education as a catalyst for success along this path. The theoretical intention of this concept is to materialize the path to success. Students experiencing the space will physically and symbolically walk this path instinctively taking in the significance and purpose of the path’s design. In theory, the environment will be an ever-present gesture toward conscious action and life-long learning. The architectural intention of the concept is to create a singular boulevard, accessed by one controlled entry point. The teacher’s village is placed near this entry point to act as a protective element to the dormitories. Roofed in thatch, these homes are postured to mimic the surrounding area. The angular geometry of the homes creates an observable contrast to the curved surfaces of the student-oriented program. The dormitories have controlled entrance points and flank the boulevard. The boys are placed near the road to act as a protective element to the girl’s dormitories. The path intended for light circulation to the inner ring will, to a point, also accommodate most vehicles. The library, embodiment of knowledge, is represented as the ultimate destination. The organization strategy orbiting the library aligns itself to maintain the views from its center to nearby trees. The remaining segments within the radial boundary are used to organize the functions of the school campus, for instance the classrooms arranged in clusters by educational stage. Our research, through interviews and regional precedence revealed the need for additional programs. This includes designs such as an experimental garden (located near the kitchen), a clinic and a four-a-side football pitch. Through an environmental coordination approach, we conserve and manage the environment using architectural devices to our advantage. Passive cooling, solar energy, on-site water incubation and selective irrigation helps achieve these objectives. Materials, systems and assemblies were designed to be constructed within local availability and resources. The new secondary school in Benga, Malawi is a step forward on the path of success for humankind.