We were asked to design a covered meting space for a church in Mochudi, Eastern Botswana. The design utilises inexpensive, commonly used local materials and building techniques, but adapts them to create a sense of occasion befitting a place of worship and celebration. The brief was to create a structure large enough to accommodate weddings and funerals, open to the sides, but capable to be closed off at night for security.
Rather than creating a formal front door, the church hall is design to invite visitors in from either side and two corners, creating a more informal, welcoming environment.
The building’s open sides provide good cross ventilation, but can be closed off with canvas drapes during the rainy season. The raised roof area in the centre further improves ventilation.
The construction utilises poles cut from the local gum tree, a renewable and inexpensive material. A row of columns along either side creates ‘side aisles’ and reduces the structural spans. Roof coverings could be thatch, metal roofing or roofing tiles. If metal sheeting or roof tiles are used, a ceiling cover of woven mats could be considered.
Low walls around the perimeter of the church hall act as seating. They can be constructed inexpensively of local stone or of brick, with a concrete topping to provide a smooth seat. The floor of the church hall will be stone or brick paving..
Custom made steel shutters act as security when closed and as shading when open. The shutter design as shown is based on a stained-glass window at Chartres Cathedral in France, setting the church hall in the tradition of Christian Architecture. However, the proud Tswana tradition of basket weaving could equally be a source of inspiration for the final design.