School built in Malawi is completely off grid. Architecture For A Change built this school from shipping containers, and is complete with solar power and a rain water collecting system.
It serves as a school for children, an adult training center, a weekend market and a community center. The school building it self is large at approximately 4,090 sq ft, and the classrooms are open. The sides fold out to create a covered walk area, and provide an open classroom environment.
Shipping containers provide a great platform to build from. They are essentially big metal boxes, more sturdy and structurally sound than any modular building in comparable categories. It makes sense to use them to provide shelter as your home of course, and what better shelter than a school where kids can go to learn.
“The design explores the possibility of the school as a covered canopy. It offers a larger covered area that provides shade, open, well-lit and well ventilated spaces. The structure becomes very efficient in terms of material vs. covered square meterage, and becomes itself a visual icon.Shade netting, lightweight steel, local masonry and corrugated iron form the architectural language of the building. Local masonry is used to create vertical louvers on the exterior of the classrooms to act as shading devices and structural support for the roof. The roofs have a slight fall to drain water into the gutters which feed the water tanks.Furthermore the proposal will include the use of refurbished shipping containers as these are structurally sound elements that have duality of function. Firstly as a transportable element, and secondly, as a shell and anchor for a new structure.One side of the container is removed, Locally manufactured bricks and pavers will be incorporated into the structure. By utilizing locally manufactured materials, it provides the people with a sense of ownership and softens the container as a foreign contextual element. The over-all feel of the building is light yet permanent and with the outer facade adjustable, provides the user with freedom in terms of spatial layout and climatic comfort.The addition of more containers makes the possibilities endless. The function of the building is not limited to a school, but can double as a community building or marketplace. These schools will act as beacons within the community, providing hope through learning, shelter through built infrastructure and nourishment through harvested rainwater to sustain subsistence farming initiatives.” ~ Architecture For A Change
What an inspirational use of shipping containers. To create a completely off grid solar powered school to provide an educational foundation for both kids and adults, as well as a local market and a community center, I think Architecture For A Change has done a wonderful job of bringing together the most important aspects of sustainable living into one solid system.