Back in September, Foster + Partners released details of their designs for a droneport in Rwanda, a humanitarian initiative that seeks to jumpstart and navigate the infrastructural challenges of emerging economies. In this video, Foster and others involved in the project explain the process of realizing the droneports, giving further details on its inclusion in this year’s Venice Biennale—with engaging new architectural visualizations to boot.
Latest projects in Rwanda
Latest news in Rwanda
If Norman Foster were a household item, he would surely be a Swiss Army Knife. Foster, who turned 80 this year, is unrelenting in producing architectural solutions to problems that other architects can only theorize - just last Wednesday, for example, his firm released their design for a previously-unheard-of building typology, a droneport in Rwanda.
As the legacy of the Cold War fades and Western preeminence gradually becomes a thing of the past, population booms in Asia followed by the growth of a vast non-western middle class have seriously challenged the Western perception of the world. The East has become the focal point of the world’s development.
In one of the eight talks that make up the TED Prize-winning City2.0, MASS Design Group Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Alan Ricks explains how MASS designed and built the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, in 2008 when "there wasn't even a word for 'architect'" in Kinyarwanda, the national language. Now thanks in part to their work, and the commitment of the many MASS Design Fellows in the area, Rwanda has a more formalized market for architectural services and even a new architecture program at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.
Support GA Collaborative's Earthbag Projects in Rwanda: Building Community Through Creative Construction
Following the success of their first Masoro Village Project house, the non-profit design group GA Collaborative (GAC) has released a video and crowdfunding campaign for their latest prototype in Rwanda. Like the previous GAC project, the first of its kind in Rwanda, it too will be built of earthbags, providing the crew further experience with a low-cost and durable construction technique.
The construction of a small single-family home twenty kilometers north of Kigali, Rwanda is now complete. The building is demure: three small bedrooms, a modest living room, and a space for cooking. Poor material availability and financial limitations meant that practicality was its primary design muse. The house is the prototype for a series of homes that the designers, GA Collaborative, will build in Masoro for members of the women’s cooperative l’Association Dushyigikirane. With the project’s uncommon building method—earthbag construction, the first of its kind in Rwanda—GA Collaborative intends to empower its clients with knowledge of an inexpensive and speedy construction technique that requires little training and no prior construction experience.
Since June, we've been reporting on the Design Corps and SEED (Social Economic Environmental Design)'s, SEEDocs, a series of mini-documentaries that highlight the stories of award-winning public interest design projects. As each mini-doc has been an excellent, inspiring exploration of the challenges and benefits of community-oriented design, we are pleased (and not a little sad!) to announce that the final seed-doc has just been released.This month's mini-doc, probably the series' best, focuses on the Nyanza Maternity Hospital, designed by MASS Design Group. MASS of course garnered much attention for their Butaro Hospital, also in Rwanda (for an interesting inside-look at the construction of Butaro, read this excellent article by MASS co-founder Marika Shiori-Clark). Should this hospital be funded and realized, it will no doubt make more headlines for the innovative public-interest design firm. Read more about MASS Design Group's lastest project in Rwanda, after the break...Part of what sets MASS Design Group apart is their receptive, "open slate" approach to projects. As Sierra Bainbridge, Director of Implementation at MASS, explains in the doc: "we don't come in with any ideas, at all, about what's going to happen - just a very very long list of questions. We can only build a very good building if we check in and understand, every step of the way, that we are understanding the clients the way that they intend for their needs to be understood."Of course, as Ms. Bainbridge points out in the doc, sometimes the clients themselves - the nurses, doctors, and patients who use the facility - don't even know how their needs could be better met, since they have gotten so used to their current, sub-par facility, a dilapidated structure built in 1931. This is where the experience of the architect comes in. With one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world, Rwanda loses over 40,000 infants, toddlers, and mothers each year; deaths that, in about 50% of cases, could have been prevented with improved hospital care. MASS Design has isolated one of the major factors in these preventable deaths: poor air circulation. When patients sit in crowded, stuffed hallways-come-waiting rooms, disease spreads rapidly. The very buildings that were designed to heal, actually kill. And so, the crowning features of MASS's design for the Nyanza Maternity hospital are solar chimneys – "a new ventilation concept that pulls fresh air up throughout the building, dramatically reducing the potential spread of disease." With the design completed, now the project only lacks donor funding to come to fruition. Please share the video, and the word, about this extraordinary project - we'll be waiting to publish it on ArchDaily once it's built. Did you miss the other SEEDocs? See them all:
Marika Shioiri-Clark is an architect who uses design to empower global change and battle inequality. While attending Harvard for her Masters in Architecture, she co-founded the non-profit MASS Design Group and began working on what would become the the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. In this article, which originally appeared on GOOD as "Building a Rwandan Wall", she explains the process by which the hospital was built and defends claims that the project, led by a group of Western architects, was somehow colonialist in nature.
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