Workshopping in Malawi: two GSA architecture students reflect on their experience

This is a guest post by Breffni O’Brien and Ciara Durkin from the Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art

Earlier this month, two Mackintosh School of Architecture (MSA) stage 5 students, Breffni O’Brien and Ciara Durkin, took part in a stakeholders’ workshop at the University of Malawi College of Medicine, involving 25 senior academics, architecture students and architects.

University of Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre Campus

This was a result of an invitation from Professor Jeremy Bagg, the Head of Glasgow University’s Dental School, to Professor Christopher Platt, MSA’s Chair of Architecture, to lead a workshop to inform the design process for a new building for the recently inaugurated Dentistry Degree Programme at the University of Malawi College of Medicine Blantyre campus.

Touring campus
Breffni, Ciara, architect Peter Creaser, Jeremy Bagg and College of Medicine colleagues tour the campus site

Breffni and Ciara took a leading role in two of the workshop groups.

Chris and Ciara
Chris and Ciara record findings from workshop group discussions

Ciara Durkin writes,

“The energy during the workshop was powerful and invigorating, with an holistic and beneficial exchange of ideas.  I enjoyed watching the Scottish and Malawian participants use this workshop to cement a common vision within a unique team of international and local collaborators.”

Breffni presents the findings from her workshop group

Breffni O’Brien writes,

“To be involved in such a collaborative and thought provoking design process was an incredibly unique experience. Being given the opportunity to contribute to such an exciting project and work alongside Malawian architecture students and the staff of the College of Medicine was an honour.”

The workshop in full swing!

Christopher Platt writes,

Breffni and Ciara were hugely effective in how they worked closely with a range of academic and student stakeholders to explore the key issues which should inform the new building’s brief. They led some of the discussions, presented their group’s findings to the wider workshop body and used their architectural graphic skills to quickly sketch key ideas which could be easily understood to a lay audience. They were outstanding ambassadors for MSA and GSA and we all enjoyed the experience with Professor Bagg and his colleagues in Malawi enormously, which has established firm foundations for future collaborations.”

Tired but very happy! Jeremy, Ciara, Breffni and Chris about to board the first of three aeroplanes taking them from Malawi back to Glasgow



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