The rural church of Chimphamba community in Malawi is the latest masterpiece of the nonprofit design company Architecture for a Change. They have created another life changing structure by drawing inspiration from the traditional design elements. The church uses an African drum design and a circular floor plan. It also uses other design features like baked bricks, wall openings, and ventilation towers to ensure natural cooling of the structure in Malawi’s subtropical heat.
The structure is now fully set up, thanks to a collaboration of Youth of Malawi, local builders and the Chimphamba community chiefs. The building is shaped as a cylinder, which besides its architectural logic, also signifies the concept of safety and protection in the Malawi customs.
The community has been using cylindrical chicken coops and maize storage containers for ages. Architects say that they have replicated the shape,
“as a metaphor for the design: as space that will protect and safeguard the sense of community in Chimphamba.”
The architects have installed three burnt red brick boxes to emulate the rural vernacular in this round building. The first box works as an entrance and the second taller box helps to create the stack effect, as a ventilation tower for natural cooling. The ventilation tower raises the hot air and moves it towards the top of the tower while sucking in the fresh and cool air into the building. This is done using the idea of temperature differences and the fact that air pressure reduces with elevations.
The entire facade has small holes that ensure natural light and ventilation. The church’s roof is shaped like a Christian cross and covered with translucent roof sheeting which allows better lighting. Amazingly, the whole project was completed in $35,000 USD only. Pretty cool, isn’t it?