The architectural brains behind Madonna’s new all-girl academy in Malawi won the pop star’s trust by creating a boarding school blueprint which doesn’t resemble a gloomy prison for kids.
German-born Markus Dochantschi was introduced to the star by her Raising Malawi charity director and he offered to create a plan for the perfect school for free.
He tells Architectural Digest magazine that Madonna was very specific about what she wanted her Raising Malawi Academy for Girls to look like.
He says, “We were asked to design a prototype boarding school replicable by others even in different countries, without repeating the typical British-style school that you see in former British colonies.”
“The design is not just about aesthetics and materials but about helping to understand the society you’re building for. For example, in Africa, you realise the importance of open space, of being outside and understanding nature. So we designed a very open pedestrian campus.”
Dochantschi tells the publication the school will cater for 450 students from all over Malawi - and he reveals the pop star is keen for all the children who start the academy to finish with honours.
He adds, “Traditionally, a lot of girls drop out in eighth grade, shortly before they get married… Madonna hopes that the school will instill pride in their homeland, and that educated young women will understand the importance of remaining in Malawi, supporting their own communities.”
The architect also reveals Madonna broke ground on the school with a shovel which featured the inscription ‘Dare to dream’.