Virginia Tech team designing replacement Malawi library following a fire

Published: Feb. 14, 2018 at 11:59 PM EST
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A team at Virginia Tech has been working to help another university on the other side of the world that lost it's library to a fire. This week, they met with delegates from Malawi to show them the designs.

On top of donating tens of thousands of books, the school could provide multiple detailed designs to replace what was lost two years ago, a loss that was so hard on the school.

"There was shock and everybody surrounding the university or the community, people couldn't believe what happened, and it was very difficult for us," said Mzuzu University Librarian Felix Majawa.

For the university, it wasn't just the burned down library, the loss was much greater.

"Without the library there was no teaching, there was no learning, there was no research, and we had to put the university on halt. In fact, we closed the university for an entire semester," said Simeon Gwayi, Mzuzu University Director of Studies.

So last Fall into September, TEAM Malawi visited the site.

"We've been collaborating with them, they've been giving us programmatic information about what the library should contain and then we've taken that and tried to analyze it and synthesize it into the three schemes that we have so far," said Kevin Jones, a Virginia Tech Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture.

In total, around thirty students and faculty worked to create the three designs you can see being put into the model.

"The work that we're doing is all about us pursuing our education, while also aspiring to give them something wonderful," said Lindsey Blum, a Architecture graduate student at Virginia Tech.

On top of being the Director of Studies for Mzuzu, Simeon Gwayi is a double Hokie, getting both his Masters and PHD at Virginia Tech.

"They're very beautiful designs and very state of the art libraries. In fact, this will be first kind of library, if adopted, it will be the first most efficient library in Malawi," said Gwayi.