Monday, 29 September 2014

1 year in Malawi, 1 month in UK

1 year in Malawi

I have visited several sites including Eva Demaya Centre in Rumphi, Never Ending Food in Lilongwe, Kumbali Lodge in Lilongwe and Masophenya Permaculture Project in Cape Maclear.

I have been documenting and researching about durable sustainable local architecture in Malawi, note the water trenches that work with the land around the outside of the dwelling, Eva Demaya Centre

I have learned about using the waste efficiently, recycling weeds, mulch and waste to make a good compost, Never Ending Food

Working with nature, Kumbali Lodge
Elephant pump, water pump made out of recycled materials Never Ending Food

Outdoor shower cubicles made out of weaved reeds, Kumbali Lodge
Well designed spaces using local materials and skills, Kumbali Lodge

Observing the collection of chicken poo which is then fermented for 2 weeks with water and used as rich fertiliser, Masophenya Permaculture Project

On top of my interest and research into sustainable development to learn and improve my design ideas as the architect for The Landirani Trust, Sam's Village ( an eco training village). I enjoy life in other ways. I live for the people's energy. I constantly gain excitement from everyone around me. The levels of fitness and freedom especially with the younger generation is really unique and special from any other countries I have been to.

Some days I experienced the more intense Malawi life
Other times I had a peaceful village life

1 month in UK

I do admit the break in the UK from my intensely busy Malawi life was refreshing. People did not stare or shout hello to gain a reaction. The millions of crowds of people in London just walked head down which made some even bump into me in the busiest tourist spots. It was claustrophobic, until I reached the harbours and coffee shops where my mum wanted to chat and rest. Any conversation was interesting with any friends and family as I tried to engage back into the priorities and feelings of what they had been through in the past year. 

As I left Malawi I didn’t forget my numerous excitable friends that I would cherish, and some humble true people who really looked after me and were my new family. I always travelled the UK by bicycle as public transport was too expensive for my Malawi wage and a car even more so! Some people in Malawi still think I’m lying about this and believe at the age of 28 I would crawl back to my parents or sisters asking for money. I couldn’t think of anything worse, especially after my decision to move far away and create my own independent life. Families support each other here in Malawi. The eldest child would work and provide money to the younger siblings, some people tried and succeeded to be independent but others would struggle battling with the lack of economy.

My dad and I cycling in Exmouth, Devon

I love cycling and I often like to drag people along with me for the company! Cycling makes me observant and question many factors of our social existence. As I cycled and thought about my new home in Malawi I always triggered which photos would be great to show people back in Malawi. The UK was a faraway land that many wanted to see but realistically would never visit.

These are the images I came up, this is what I wanted to show everyone about England.

The countryside is like my heaven: green with fresh scents of flowers and vegetation
Thatch is popular in the countryside as it breathes to make the building climate responsive depending on the weather outside. People use chicken wire to fix it to the roof so it holds well and therrfore needs less maintainance.
Traditional architecture in the country in UK also built their homes out of local materials. People still do, as they realise the importance of climate change. People use stones, bricks and wattle & daub (weaved timber structure: willow and ash tree branches, moulded with aggregrate and manure). 

Houses built with local stone and brick
Old mills were once built to use water power to turn the machinery: inside is a rotating grain mill churning all grains to make bread, London
Everyone depends on electricity in the city of London so there is a complex electricity system that connects to every house


Recycling lorries and full buildings to collect, sort and store rubbish. People in Malawi think I'm crazy collecting all types of materials from Lilongwe that we reuse on site in the village.

So that was my home, and this is what I now call home, I will try and describe it as best as possible.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Design, Build, Live Rammed earth.

My name is Nyomi Rowsell. I am writing this blog to keep everyone and anyone up to date. Some may be across the other side of the world, in the UK where my original home is. There is definitely a divide and ridiculous contrast to my life and home here in Malawi. I chose this life as I wanted to investigate an original path, close to nature and people, which for me provides beauty.  I travelled by bike from Cairo to Cape Town some years back now and was most excited by the kindness and energy of people in Uganda and Malawi. 

For those of you reading this from this serene continent, Africa you will already understand the warm golden colours of light and landscapes folding out between the clusters of tight communities.  I have only been in Malawi for one year. I want to stay.

Apon recently returning to the UK I had a problem:  modernity had crept into my incredible new life. I found it difficult to justly describe this  new life as Nangondo, My Malawi name was given to me by the chief of the village, Nangondo.

  • ·         I live in rural remote North West Lilongwe
  • ·         I am the architect for Landirani Training Village, Sams Village

I hope this blog will provide:

  • ·         A mixture of shocking events that people could never comprehend in the UK
  • ·         A story of my routine to provide excitement as I compare it to UK life
  • ·         Architectural progress on The Landirani Trust Training Village, Sams Village 

As I described events to my friends and family back in the UK I was taken aback with the interest while they were frustrated by what I saw as minor details. It occurred to me that I had been scribbling some project notes while travelling through the rolling beautiful Malawian scenery between Lilongwe Town to the village, after all this was my common commute. My lifestyle has changed from UK and to address this gulf in comprehension I bring you Design, Build, Live Rammed earth.