Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Architectural Structures: Malawi, Africa

Architecture is a significant part of the history and culture of people. Architectural practices from a locality are known as venecular architecture which essentially means traditional ways of constructing buildings among a group of people in a specific area. Through the movement of people from nomadic travel to colonialism there has been a mixture of architectural styles that have been shared among people. The long term effects of this mix in architectural styles and culture can be seen all over Africa. 

The images below show some current architectural structures found in Malawi today. The images were taken in the country's 3rd largest city Mzuzu and a local trading centre called Ekwendeni. Trading centres are effectively new towns created at points along a transportation route allowing for truck stops. In this case Ekwendeni is situated on the route from Malawi to neighbouring Tanzania.
A rustic shelter constructed in a semi urban environment 
Venecular architecture has evolved into a more western style of architecture 
Qualified  architects are not commonly engaged for design purposes as they are costly.
Individuals with some knowledge of design commonly draw a basic plan for experienced builders to follow. 
A blair toilet 
Though western styles of architecture have been adopted, not all domestic
properties are fully equipped with indoor toilet and bathroom. This is a sign of how
venecular architecture has slowly evolved.
Market Stalls
The market stalls have been constructed with wood and seem more like temporary structures.
Though many structures are made out of brick, there is a clear mixture of more traditional construction with the use of wood for a gate / fence between buildings.
In this image we see structures that are more venecular in nature with the use of
thatched roofing and wooden walls / doors. It is interesting to note that outside these
shops there are window frames on sale which indicate the adaptation of western style architecture. 
There are many buildings in urban and semi urban areas that are completely western in
 architectural  style. This is a clear sign of the colonial influence on local architecture.
There has also been an adaptation of building use from the colonial era for example
this library and the post office in the image above.

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