ehk! were asked to design a covered but not fully enclosed church hall 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 an inexpensive ‘gumpole’ structure large enough to accommodate weddings and funerals, open to the sides, but capable to be closed off at night for security.
The church hall is design to allow visitors in from either side and two corners, making it welcoming and inviting.
The structure is open to all sides, providing good cross ventilation. The raised roof area in the centre further improves ventilation. This will be especially important if the side walls are covered with canvas drapes during rainy weather.
The floor plan is designed around a grid of 3m x 3m. The floor is raised off the ground to prevent flooding during the rainy season. The stage area is raised another 0.5 m.
A row of columns along either side creates ‘side aisles’ and reduces the structural spans.
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 in the final design (see images).
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 coping to provide a smooth surface. The floor of the church hall will be stone or brick paving, or a concrete screed.
The roof structure is made of gum poles. 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.