Village Health Works 40-acre Master Plan / Louise Braverman Architect

Traces of Centuries and Future Steps; Courtesy of Louise Braverman Architect

The village of Kigutu in Burundi, Africa is on its way to rebuilding a rural, off-the-grid medical site designed by Louise Braverman, Architect in collaboration with Village Health Works.  The 40-acre master site plan is a feature of sustainable design that includes several new buildings, all of which embody East African cultural elements.  To feature the progress of the five-year plan, Louise Braverman will also be presenting “Kigutu in Formation” at the 2012 Venice Biennale as part of Traces of Centuries and Future Steps event at Palazzo Bembo between August 29th and November 25th.

Join us after the break for more on Village Health Works Master Plan and the upcoming exhibit.

Village Health Works 40-acre Master Plan / Louise Braverman, Architect; Courtesy of Louise Braverman Architect

Kigutu In Formation” will immerse visitors into the world of Kigutu culture.  The three dimensional exhibit of colorful interwoven tapestries is accompanied by the featured video below, produced by Louise Braverman Architect, that captures the cultural richness of the village of Kigutu as well as the urgency with which a medical facility is necessary for the population. Child mortality, mother mortality, food insecurity and gender-based violence are the dire circumstances within which this project sets itself.  Keen on working with the cultural and natural elements of the people and the landscape, the architectural work for the long-term, 5-year planning of the facility aspires to address local and global issues of personal health, security and societal advancement.

Village Health Works 40-acre Master Plan / Louise Braverman, Architect; Courtesy of Louise Braverman Architect

Kigutu is in the early stages of repair after years of civil strife.  Braverman writes, “it is an ideal exploratory site for investigating how to weave 21st century ideas into the fabric of an existing third world rural site”. Working closely with the community and allied with Village Health Works, Louise Braverman, Architect is bringing technically advanced designs to work within the natural framework of the site.

Village Health Works 40-acre Master Plan / Louise Braverman, Architect; Courtesy of Louise Braverman Architect

Off-the-grid, local and open describe the features of the campus.  Buildings that are programmatically similar are clustered together, encompassing community gardens and communal spaces.  The gardens provide social and safe spaces for community functions and gatherings to take place. They also create a lush environment that natural collects rainwater and addresses drainage issues associated with the steep hills of the village.

Village Health Works 40-acre Master Plan / Louise Braverman, Architect; Courtesy of Louise Braverman Architect

Given the parameters of the design, the project addresses questions of growing and developing communities of the 21st century, in a world that is conscious of energy expenditure and sustainable, primate solutions.  The team is working on innovative concepts of energy consumption, including a three part hybrid system composed of generating solar power, connecting to the hydro grid of a neighboring village and creating a bio-refinery plant where human waste generates both energy and fertilizer for farming.

Diagram, Village Health Works 40-acre Master Plan; Courtesy of Louise Braverman Architect

The design “learns” from the natural contours of the landscape, fitting with naturally cut lines of the steep hill.  Buildings are embedded in the earth, running parallel with the contours and the terrain to optimize on the ground’s natural temperature.  Minimal expenditure of energy and minimal intrusion on the landscape guide the design to cherish the local land and the local culture and respect the lifestyle of reliance on the land.

Traces of Centuries and Future Steps; Courtesy of Louise Braverman Architect

The master-plan strives to provide solutions that are both locally and globally accessible.  Learning how to develop architecture that addresses a community’s needs while also being aware of global concerns should be the standard of design.  It speculates on what it means to grow, to cherish, to respect and to advance in a potential future with awareness of the past.

Exhibition Details
Architect: Louise Braverman
Project Manager: Jing Liu
Design Team: Moulee Basumallik, Sunny Huang, Bethany Long, Derric Meister, Revati Narayan, Christian Newman, Molly O’Neill. Brandon Townsend
Exhibit Location: The Palazzo Bembo, Venice, Italy
Dates: Aug 29th – Nov 25th 

Village Health Works Master Plan Details
Architect: Louise Braverman
Location: Kigutu, Burundi, Africa
Architectural Design Team: John Gillham, Kamilla Litvinov, Jing Liu, Christian Newman
Engineering Design Team: Kartik Chandran P.E., Columbia University and Jochen Spengler P.E.
Client: Village Health Works 

Cite: "Village Health Works 40-acre Master Plan / Louise Braverman Architect" 01 Sep 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • Louise Braverman

    Thanks Irina and ArchDaily for this very thoughtful article. You really captured the essence of what we are trying to achieve in Kigutu.

  • tom fox

    Great to see pictures of the progress on the ground 4 months in. The Venice design format highlighting Village Health Works medical clinic at the Venice exhibition captures the colorful vibrant optimistic outward attitude of the local people. Beautiful show!! Keep up the great work- Tom Fox

  • joe arrigo

    Very refreshing to see news from Africa that is humanitarian for its people.

  • Brian D

    I agree with Joe Arrigo. I wish more people in the US were as brave and bold as Louise Braverman. Undertaking a project over there must be taxing, but truly rewarding. This truly looks amazing and everyone involved should be commended

  • Nancy Birenboim

    When I first viewed the display of textures, materials and colors my first thought was this was in Africa and I could not figure out where. Then when I realized it was in Venice I was surprised but pleased.

    The African design is practical, sleek and usable. As a physican I particularly appreciate The secure location of the medical facilities.

    Innovative and appreciated for future projects.

  • Susan B.

    This project hits all the marks: ecological, aesthetic and practical More importantly, it does so with great respect for the people, the culture, the landscape and the local economy. Bravo! Let’s hope it sets the bar for all future enterprises in Africa.

  • Witkowski Boguslaw

    The quality of your work makes me confident in the future of our young professionals. Congratulations!