MASS Design Group’s Latest Video: Design That Heals

In their sixth Beyond the Building video, “Design That Heals,” MASS Design Group explores how architects can improve the lives and health of people everywhere. The video reveals how the work of MASS operates on various scales from everything to designing better furniture to influencing national policies. Their approach to humanitarian architecture begins by empowering the local community to take ownership of new projects, and in turn, bring about significant improvements in the quality of life in places that have previously been overlooked.

For example, talking about MASS Design Group‘s Butaro Hospital, Rwanda‘s Minister for Health Dr. Agnes Binagwaho says: “There’s this idea of equity to put a , state of the art, in the middle of nowhere. It was not nowhere for everybody, because there are 300,000 people living there.” Watch the video above and get involved in the conversation on how architecture can go #beyondthebuilding.

MASS Design Group’s Latest “Beyond the Building” Video: Building Better Builders

In their fifth Beyond the Building video, “Building Better Builders,” MASS Design Group goes behind the scenes of their projects in Haiti to speak with local architects and metalworkers and show how incorporating local talent can engage the local community to develop innovative solutions.

“I am happy that Haitians are constructing it,” says a local engineer working with MASS. “The best way for a person to appreciate it is to participate in the making of it.” Watch the video above and share your thoughts on how architecture can go #beyondthebuilding in the comments below.

Three Projects That Transform Low-Tech Materials Into Innovative Design

Top: Educational Building In Mozambique / Students. Middle: School Library Gando / Kere Architecture. Bottom: Umubano Primary School /

The following article is presented by Materials, ArchDaily’s new US product catalog.

How many times in the last year have you heard 3d printing mentioned? What about double-skinned curtain walls or “smart” buildings? High-tech materials almost always seem to dominate the conversation – at least in architectural circles. But using the latest invention in material technology usually does not make a building “innovative.” More often than not, it just makes it expensive and flashy.

Low-tech materials like lumber, stone and brick, on the other hand, are often overlooked, even though the use of local and locally produced materials offers the lowest possible carbon footprint. And while these common materials may seem boring, with a bit of imagination and technical skill, an architect can transform these materials into something fresh. With that in mind, check out three truly innovative projects which use low-tech materials in different and exciting ways.

VIDEO: Can Architecture Foster Dignity?

Believing the lack of dignity is a motivator of crime, MASS Design Group has dedicated their fourth Beyond the Building video series to the notion that architecture has the capacity to build peace. Focusing on how the building process can foster dignity, as well as economic and social justice, MASS encourages architects to ask themselves: “How can we use architecture to contribute to peace, conflict resolution, instill dignity, and promote justice?” Watch the video above and share your thoughts on how architecture can go #beyondthebuilding.

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 © Iwan Baan

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 Rwanda 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

. 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: ,
Architect In Charge: MASS Design Group
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: Rwanda
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 , designed by MASS Design Group. MASS of course garnered much attention for their Butaro , 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…

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

by . Image © Iwan Baan.

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. 

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…