VIDEO: Extreme Sustainability in the Congo

MASS has just released the third video in their Beyond the Building series, which examines how architecture and design can positively impact our world, beyond buildings (check out the first video here and the second here). The latest – “Ilima: Beyond Sustainability” – explores MASS’s collaboration with the as well as local masons to build a primary school in the rural Congolese village of Ilima, where, due to its remote location, practically all materials must be sourced locally.

For more information on MASS’s work in Congo, follow the project’s manager, Andrew Brose, via the hashtag #AndrewinIlima on Facebook and Twitter, and make sure to add your thoughts to how architecture can go #beyondthebuilding as well.

VIDEO: The Story of Kankwazi, MASS’s First Female Master Mason

In honor of International Women’s Day, MASS Design Group has released the latest in their video series “Beyond the Building,” a visual exploration of the ways architecture impacts lives around the world (see the first in the series here). This episode tells the story ofMASS master mason Anne Marie Nyiranshimiyimana, better known as Kankwazi, one of the first and only female masons in her region of Rwanda, who learned her trade while working on the Butaro Hospital project. Her story is a perfect example of how architecture can empower and inspire women in communities across the world. In Kankwazi’s words: “it dignified me [..and] no amount of value can be assigned to dignity.” Enjoy the video above (the first of the series) and join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtags #womensday and #beyondthebuilding.

Autodesk Launches Foundation Aimed to Solve “Epic Design Challenges”

Doctors’ Housing / MASS Design Group. Image ©

Autodesk has launched the Autodesk Foundation, an organization which will “invest in and support the most impactful nonprofit organizations using the power of design to help solve epic challenges.” In an effort to aid those tackling global issues such as “climate change, access to water, and healthcare,” the foundation will provide select design-oriented grantees with software, training and financial support.

Video: MASS Design Group ‘Beyond The Building’

MASS Design Group, the award-winning design group behind the Butaro Hospital and Umubano Primary School in as well as other public-interest projects in Haiti, have launched a video series on a great topic that really resonates with us. “Beyond the Building” will look at the ways in which architecture, beyond buildings, impacts lives around the world, giving dignity back to the users. Check out the awesome video above (the first of the series) and join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #beyondthebuilding.

Who Will We Consider Today’s Greatest Design Innovators, Tomorrow?

’s Butaro Hospital. Image © Iwan Baan

Often, it is only with hindsight that we can truly understand our world; looking back at how important certain events and people proved to be is much easier than predicting their importance at the time. Still, guessing who will be remembered in posterity is a fun game, so The Atlantic asked various industry leaders “Who Will Tomorrow’s Historians Consider Today’s Greatest Inventors?” The answers span across business, science, and design, and among the 9 nominations there are a few names that architects and urban designers may find interesting. Read on after the break to find out just who they are.

MASS Design Group’s Proposal to Reconstruct Haitian Hospital

© MASS Design Group

In September 2012, the Haitian Ministry of Economy and Finance called for the of the hospital of the State University of Haiti, a medical facility located in the heart of Port-au-Prince that has been operating in ruins since the 2010 earthquake. After the Ministry received large development grants from the US and France, the challenge for designers was to create an earthquake resistant hospital within the $48 million budget, while also phasing the construction to maintain an operational capacity of 500 beds. MASS Design Group was one of the design teams to come up with such a proposal.

For the team’s project description, read on.

MASS Design Group Joins African Education Initiative

Hospital. Image © Iwan Baan

Together with the (AWF), MASS Design Group is helping to build 15 conservation primary schools over the next 10 years in African landscapes, home to some of world’s most important wildlife populations, including elephants, rhinos, great apes, and lions. They will design non-traditional educational campuses for primary school children that offer lessons and other services extending beyond the classroom walls.

Making Space Resonate: Incorporating Sound Into Public-Interest Design

The syn chron space by Carsten Nicolai. Image Courtesy of artcentron.com

“The modern architect is designing for the deaf.” Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer makes a valid point. [1] The topic of sound is practically non-existent in modern architectural discourse. Why? We, as architects, think in terms of form and space; we balance scientific understanding and artistic vision. The problem is, we have a tendency to give ample thought to objects rather than processes and systems. Essentially, our field is ocular-centric by nature. So how do we start to “see” sound? And more importantly, how do we use it to promote health, safety and well-being?

Umubano Primary School / MASS Design Group

© Iwan Baan

Architects: MASS Design Group
Location: Kigali,
Architect In Charge:
Design Team: Michael Murphy, Alan Ricks, Sierra Bainbridge, Ebberly Strathairn, Branden Collins, Andrew Brose, Marika Shioiri-Clark, Ryan Leidner, Eric Mutabazi
Area: 900 sqm
Year: 2010
Photographs: Iwan Baan

Butaro Doctors’ Housing / MASS Design Group

© Iwan Baan

Architects: MASS Design Group
Location: Butaro
Architect In Charge:
Area: 500 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Iwan Baan

SEEDoc: Nyanza Maternity Hospital / MASS Design Group

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 -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 (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…

How to Balance Local Traditions and New Solutions in Public-Interest Design

Butaro Hospital by MASS Design Group. Image © .

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  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. 

As she puts it: “In a place like Rwanda, it’s not neo-colonialist to work on high-quality design projects as long as you’re deeply and authentically engaged with the community. In today’s world, it’s more neo-colonialist to assume that African people don’t want well-designed buildings and spaces.”

Read about Ms. Shiori-Clark’s experiences, and the delicate balance that must be struck between local knowledge and innovative techniques, after the break…

Architectural League Announces 2013 Winners of Emerging Voices Award

Kukje Art Gallery, Seoul (South Korea) / , credit: Iwan Baan

Emerging Voices is an award developed by the Architecture League of New York that annually selects eight practitioners in a juried portfolio selection.  Award recipients are selected from the disciplines of architecture, landscape design and urbanism and display the sensibility of the profession in light of the larger issues related to the built environment.  This year’s selection includes: SO-ILPRODUCTORAOgrydziak Prillinger ArchitectsMASS Design Groupgraciastudio , dland studioDIGSAU, and cao | perrot Studio.

Details after the break. 

Curry Stone Prize Winners’ Inspiring Videos

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Each of this year’s winners of the Curry Stone Design Prize are incredible examples of the powerful, and truly varied reach, of Public-Interest Design – which is why we’re sharing these short films, by Room 5 Films, on each of the winning projects. From the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda designed by MASS Design Group to the “Liter by Light” project (that recycles plastic bottles to bring a safe source of light to the slums of the Phillippines), each of these films are inspiring snapshots into the work and worlds of each of these winners.

More videos on Winners, after the break…

2012 Curry Stone Design Prize Winners Announced!

Butaro Hospital, / MASS Design Group. © Iwan Baan. “The Butaro Hospital in ’s has 140 beds and serves 400,000 people.”

The Winners for this year’s coveted Curry Stone Design Prize, which awards talented designers who “harness their ingenuity and craft for social good,” have just been announced!

In honor of the fifth anniversary of the Prize, this year the five winners will share the $25,000 award equally. An awards ceremony will take place on November 15, 2012, at Harvard Graduate School of Design, followed the next day with a forum of presentations by the 2012 winners and panel discussions. The awards ceremony and daylong forum are free and open to the public.

A big congratulations go out to The Center for Urban PedagogyJeanne van HeeswijkLiter of LightMASS Design, and the Riwaq Centre for Architectural Conservation! More info on these incredible organizations, after the break…

MASS Design Group wins the Zumtobel Group Award 2012

Hospital, Rwanda / MASS Design Group – Courtesy of Zumtobel Group

MASS Design Group was announced as winner of the for their innovative and cost-efficient Butaro Hosptial in Rwanda. They triumphed over the 230 projects from 30 different countries that competed in the “Built Environment” award category. Additionally, Atelier d’architecture autogérée (France) was selected as winner of the “Research & Initiative” category for developing a strategy of urban resilience known as the R-URBAN project in Paris.

“Through their decision this year, the jury have underlined the fact that it takes a holistic approach to make truly sustainable improvements in the built environment,” said Zumtobel Group CEO Harald Sommerer, who was also a member of the 8-strong jury. “We are particularly pleased to see that, this year, young and dedicated architectural practices have won the award with approaches to resolving social and ecological issues, both in the industrialized world and in developing countries.”

Continue after the break to learn more.

Help MASS Build Capacity

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MASS Design Group is encourage everyone to help, in any way, in their efforts to design, build, and advocate for buildings that improve health and strengthen communities. Architects have a unique ability to affect change by producing Well-Built Environments, those that are efficient, effective, and empowering. By applying architectural thinking to the full project delivery process we can engender social and political affects that help fight social inequity. For more information and to find out ways you can help, please visit their website here.

Butaro Hospital / MASS Design Group

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Architects: MASS Design Group
Location: Burera District, Rwanda
Client: Rwandan Ministry of Health; Partners In Health / Inshuti Mu Buzima
Sewage Plant Engineering: EcoProtection
Landscape Design: Sierra Bainbridge and Maura Rockcastle
Design Team: Michael Murphy, Alan Ricks, Sierra Bainbridge, Marika Clark, Ryan Leidner, Garret Gantner, Cody Birkey, Ebbe Strathairn, Maura Rockcastle, Dave Saladik, Alda Ly, Robert Harris, Commode Dushimimana, Nicolas Rutikanga
Structural Engineering: ICON
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 6,040 sqm
Photographs: Iwan Baan, MASS Design Group