Steven Holl Architects’ design for a new library at the center of a new campus plan has been approved by The Miracle for Africa Foundation. The 66,000 sq. ft. library is organized via a section that provides maximum reflected light to the interior with optimum solar PV collection on the roofs.
Natural light bouncing off curved prefabricated roof structures made of Ductile concrete form space like a “field within a field.” The free plan library has meeting rooms and archives encased in glass for humidity control. A central rain collecting pool demarks the main circulation desk and ripples through the roof geometry like a wave field in cloud-like light.
The construction will utilize local stone and bamboo and local labor. Screens of locally crafted bamboo define the building perimeter leaving a shaded arcade space all around. This library will be the initial construction of a new campus whose plan morphology has been inspired by paintings of a Malawi batik artist.
The client, Mr. Y. K. Chung, founder and chairman of the Miracle for Africa Foundation, made the following comments following the design presentation: “There is great excitement about this project as an artistic masterpiece, and about the solar energy concept as it works with maximal light, ventilation, and humidity control.
I’m astonished at the consideration and interpretation of Malawian batik art, the reflective pool, waves in a field of light, and the philosophical axes of the campus. This project is historic, the library will be an iconic marker for a great moment in the architectural history of Malawi and for all of Africa; especially Malawi, which has been away from modern civilization for so long.”
Malawi, called “The Warm Heart of Africa” has a population of 16.7 million. It is among the smallest countries in Africa (Lake Malawi is 1/3 its area). It is among the world’s least developed countries with the world’s lowest income per person (according to World Bank Report).
The Miracle for Africa Foundation aims to serve the people of Malawi and Africa in need by expanding healthcare, education, and agricultural opportunities. Sorce by Steven Holl Architects.
Article by Marco Rinaldi