Form A Flock

 Solitary Indian Finalist entry from around over 70 countries of the Africa school project 

A flock follows three simple rules of behavior; first, to maintain a minimum distance from other objects in the environment; second, to match velocities with other birds; third, to move towards the perceived centre of the birds in its neighborhood. “What is striking about these rules is that none of them said “Form a flock” notes Mitchel Waldrop. Yet flocks did form every time as an emergent phenomenon. In this project the flock is the crowd or throng of students in a horizontal field phenomenon. The crowd or here the students need a direction. The design creates a direction as such the students move towards the perceived path without intervening the surroundings.

The Malawian culture tends more towards egalitarian and individualist values. Architecture is the embodiment of cultural norms that pre-exist in individual structures. Respecting their culture the design concentrates on the user and their touch with architecture rather than following the modern formal hierarchy of any institution by avoiding gated spaces between the student and teacher living arrangements thus creating a more social and interactive environment. The secondary school students are at an age where it is important for them to be an individual but also be a part of the community (flock) as a whole with discipline. The goal of this project is to rethink conventional institutional form through the concept of the field by forming the institution within a directed field condition to help nurture each student to inherit the Malawian values, connected to the village or landscape, a space is left for the tactical improvisations of future users (future eight classrooms).

Field condition offers a tentative opening in architecture to address the dynamics of use, behavior of users and the geometries between masses but on contrary the plain form of the vernacular structures represent an external image of endurance promoting the social relations. The ecological and economic footprint of the school is vastly reduced by planning the spaces with common walls and least cut and fill of land, avoiding hardscapes throughout the site and promoting local projects like sweet potato project or fruit tree project to increase tree plantation, in turn avoiding soil erosion and promoting reforestation. The proposal brings together the activity spaces to take root across the water reservoir as a meeting place. Thus creating an architecture not just invested in durability and certainty but an architecture that leaves space for the uncertainty of the real. At the same time it aims to establish a rational and adaptable structure that develops learning spaces with minimal resources and simple construction techniques in the best physical and environmental conditions according to the site.