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Mass Design Group: The Latest Architecture and News

TED Talk: How MASS Design Group Gave the Word "Architecture" a Meaning in Rwanda

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.

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 hospital, 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.

Three Projects That Transform Low-Tech Materials Into Innovative Design

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 African Wildlife Foundation 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.

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).

Autodesk Launches Foundation Aimed to Solve "Epic Design Challenges"

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?

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, technology 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 Joins African Education Initiative

Together with the African Wildlife Foundation (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 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?

The syn chron space by Carsten Nicolai. Image Courtesy of artcentron.comThe syn chron space by Carsten Nicolai. Image Courtesy of artcentron.comThe Butaro Hospital by MASS Design Group. Image © Iwan BaanSound Tube 1971. Image © Atelier Leitner+ 5

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 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:

  • Maria Auxiliadora School - On August 15th, 2007 a powerful earthquake hit the region of Ica, Perú, destroying the small Maria Auxiliadora School. The first responders left after a matter of months, but the damage remained. With help from Architecture for Humanity Design Fellow, Diego Collazo, the community decided to take the school’s – and their children’s – future into their own hands.
  • Escuela Ecológica- In this school in Lima, Peru, students learn in small, dark rooms and play in the dirt. The community desperately wanted a park where the children could play and a school where they could comfortably learn. With the help of a local architect and a group of professors and students from the University of Washington, the community is making those dreams a reality.
  • Bancroft School Revitilization - In Manheim Park, a low-income, neglected neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri,there was an abandoned, abestos-ridden school that no one used - until residents approached BNIM Architects with the idea of turning it into a revitalized community center. With the help of the Make It Right Foundation, BNIM collaborated with the neighborhood to design a multi-use center with affordable housing units, a health clinic, and public gathering space.
  • The Grow Dat Youth Farm - A brilliant example of “Urban Agri-puncture” (a strategy that uses design & Urban Agriculture to target a city’s most deprived, unhealthy neighborhoods), changing the lives of New Orleans youth. Central to the farm’s development has been the creation of a campus, designed and constructed by students enrolled at the Tulane City Center, who turned an abandoned golf course to an energy-efficient, organic farm sensitive to regional climate.

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

Butaro Hospital by MASS Design Group. Image © Iwan Baan.
Butaro Hospital by MASS Design Group. 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) / SO-IL, credit: Iwan Baan
Kukje Art Gallery, Seoul (South Korea) / SO-IL, 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-IL, PRODUCTORA, Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects, MASS Design Group, graciastudio , dland studio, DIGSAU, and cao | perrot Studio.

Details after the break. 

Curry Stone Prize Winners' Inspiring Videos

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 Curry Stone Prize Winners, after the break...

2012 Curry Stone Design Prize Winners Announced!

Butaro Hospital, Rwanda / MASS Design Group
Butaro Hospital, Rwanda / MASS Design Group

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!

A big congratulations go out to The Center for Urban Pedagogy, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Liter of Light, MASS 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

Butaro Hospital, Rwanda / MASS Design Group - Courtesy of Zumtobel Group
Butaro Hospital, Rwanda / MASS Design Group - Courtesy of Zumtobel Group

MASS Design Group was announced as winner of the Zumtobel Group Award 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.