Design nonprofit Architecture for a Change continues their life-changing work with the completion of a new church for the Chimphamba community in Malawi. Built to replace a dilapidated community center, the Rural Church draws inspiration from the traditional African drum with its circular floor plan. The building relies on the thermal mass of earthen bricks, wall openings, and a ventilation tower to stay naturally cool in Malawi’s subtropical heat.
Created in collaboration with Youth of Malawi and the chiefs of the Chimphamba community, Architecture for a Change’s Rural Church was designed to meet the skill set of local builders while providing some new learning opportunities. The building was constructed with a cylindrical form, a shape that symbolizes safety and protection in the community. Citing the community’s use of cylindrical chicken coops and maize storage containers, the architects say the Christian church’s shape “was used as a metaphor for the design: as space that will protect and safeguard the sense of community in Chimphamba.”
Three boxes, built of locally burnt red brick to match the rural vernacular, are inserted into the round building. The first box serves as a foyer while a second, taller box uses the stack effect to function as a ventilation tower for natural cooling. Using temperature differences and lower air pressures at higher heights, the ventilation tower passively pulls hot air to the top of the building and sucks fresh air into the building.
Small holes punctuate the building to let in natural light and ventilation. The church’s roof symbolizes a Christian cross and is covered with translucent roof sheeting to allow additional natural light in. The building was completed in early 2017 with a budget of $35,000 USD.
Images via Architecture for a Change