African vernacular architecture

Documentation for Preservation- creating a data base for the preservation of African Vernacular Architecture

Last day documenting Malawi vernacular architecture.  The pic is of a roof structure minus the thatch.  Thatching begins right before the rains… which is about a month from now.  The thatch is either in bundles leaning against a tree or structure or is just laying on top of roofs waiting to be tied down.

Day 20 of documenting Malawi vernacular architecture. Long day but we documented a lot.  This picture is of a woman decorating her house with mud from a nearby riverbank.  Would right more but i think that being in a vehicle for 3 weeks is just taking it’s toll.  Cheers from Malawi!

Day 20 of documenting Malawi vernacular architecture. Long day but we documented a lot.  This picture is of a woman decorating her house with mud from a nearby riverbank.  Would right more but i think that being in a vehicle for 3 weeks is just taking it’s toll.  Cheers from Malawi!

Day 19… and a very short post.  We had to double back from Rhumphi to Mzuzu and then to Mzimba. The original route had a bad road and a bridge out.. so it was out of the question.  As a result did not get to document much.  This pic is from one our stops.. it is a close up of the underside of a roof… gum poles supporting reeds which then supports the thatch.

Day 18 was a long drive down bumpy roads. I could do a whole web page just on the doors of Malawi.  They are so beautiful and really capture a spirit of the home… one of entrance.  We have found wood doors.. like above… reed doors… bamboo doors… woven doors… metal doors.. and others like plywood.  Put that up with some paintings around the openings an you have a unique opening every time.

Day 18 was a long drive down bumpy roads. I could do a whole web page just on the doors of Malawi.  They are so beautiful and really capture a spirit of the home… one of entrance.  We have found wood doors.. like above… reed doors… bamboo doors… woven doors… metal doors.. and others like plywood.  Put that up with some paintings around the openings an you have a unique opening every time.

Day 17 on documenting Malawi vernacular architecture.  The road to Chpiti was a steep climb with hilly turns.  Not as much seen today as a usual trip. We started off by going the wrong direction… I wanted to go to the border in Chipiti… Ralph though border and went north to the main border with Tanzania.  If we would not have gone wrong … we would not have seen this stretch of villages that build in bamboo.  I have not really seen it anywhere else so cool to see.  The image was a close up from this house that was just completely covered.. both strange and beautiful. Tomorrow we start our final turn south.  Have 3 days left to document… trying to get as much as possible.

Day 17 on documenting Malawi vernacular architecture.  The road to Chpiti was a steep climb with hilly turns.  Not as much seen today as a usual trip. We started off by going the wrong direction… I wanted to go to the border in Chipiti… Ralph though border and went north to the main border with Tanzania.  If we would not have gone wrong … we would not have seen this stretch of villages that build in bamboo.  I have not really seen it anywhere else so cool to see.  The image was a close up from this house that was just completely covered.. both strange and beautiful. Tomorrow we start our final turn south.  Have 3 days left to document… trying to get as much as possible.

This a pedestrian bridge we stopped at on day 16 of documenting Malawi vernacular architecture.  This bridge has been around since 1904 and has absolutely no steel cables or connections nor any concrete.  Talk about sustainable… it is all bamboo… branches and vines!! I walked across it… knowing there were no crocodiles below was only a slight relief.  It was a pretty awesome thing to see and do.

Day 15 of documenting Malawi vernacular architecture.  We are officially in the North… the weather is much cooler and the scenery has changed dramatically.  Graineries are not as prevalent in this area as in others.  One constant we are finding is the plant pictured above, They take the leaves of a certain plant… cut them in strips and use them to fasten the small roof poles to the larger ones… will have to check my notes for the plants name.

Found this structure on the road from Lilongwe to Salima. The decoration at the base is pretty interesting.  We have been asking where they get the pigment to color the plaster.  I am surprised by the number of pigments and where they are gathered from.  From the soil just right there to soil from a riverbank… soil from underneath the mountain. The additives were… charcoal… burnt brick… batteries… the seeds from a  pod on a certain tree… ashes… and many more.  This is the end of day 14 research… and it was a long one.

Day 13 of documenting Malawi vernacular architecture.  Staying in Salima tonite.  We documented from Lilongwe east to Salima.  This picture is the top of a thatch structure. the rings are grass woven into what is a horizontal bundle.  We saw these bundle being used as mini beams supporting thatch.

Currently in Lilongwe… just finished off central area.  Will head to Selema tomorrow and then straight north.  The one big difference (besides numerous small ones) between the central and the north was the use of rammed earth in the central area.  We did not see any in the southern area.  We did see burnt brick everywhere… so it was encouraging to see the rammed earth. It is sad to see how much wood is being used.