Architecture for a Change recently completed the Legson Kayira Community Center & Primary School, an off-grid, prefab primary school made from shipping containers in Malawi.
The building was manufactured offsite in a workshop in South Africa and then shipped to Malawi, where a local team assembled the school in eight weeks under the direction of site architect John Saaimen. The final structure is constructed out of local materials, lightweight steel, as well as the shipping containers that transported the prefabricated structure.
Although Malawi is one of the world’s most-densely populated countries, the land-locked nation is also one of the least-developed countries in the world. The majority of the population subsists on an agrarian economy, and thus many children begin work immediately after primary school. School attendance rates and youth literary, however, have increased thanks to improvements in infrastructure such as Architecture for a Change’s recently completed project.
The primary school’s defining feature is its eye-catching and elevated steel canopy that provides shade and promotes airflow throughout the building.
The roof is also angled to drain rainwater into collection tanks. The building facade is constructed partly from shipping containers and partly from local materials, such as the brick walls and bamboo ceilings, which help soften the appearance of the school.
Select classroom walls are covered by shade netting, which can be lifted or lowered to provide privacy without compromising cross-ventilation. Electricity in the school is powered by solar energy.