Editorial

MASS Design Group: Architects designing a diverse future in Africa – (Part 6)

MASS Design Group

For our sixth piece on architects designing a diverse future in Africa, we profile an organization that is using what they call their ‘impact driven model‘ to learn from and improve Africa.

MASS design group is a Boston-founded design firm that uses an iterative approach where they immerse themselves in the context they are building in. This sensitivity toward the actual impact of their buildings has created a practice that focuses on the goals of each project and building and ensures they execute with the correct intentions for the communities they are serving.

One of the firm’s most notable ‘impact driven’ projects is the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. This project was centered on a ‘light touch’ approach to healthcare buildings; an alternative approach to the large, high-tech western hospitals that haven’t always been successfully transplanted to African contexts. In 1991, the King Faisal Hospital was constructed in Rwanda and was unsuccessful because it stayed empty due to a lack of staff. The Butaro Hospital tackled these problems with sensible approaches such as a layout that does not allow crowded corridors and poor ventilation; and also minimizes energy use and maintenance costs.

MASS design has since expanded such innovative approaches to healthcare buildings across the continent and around the world; which have attracted praise for their low energy, high impact designs.

In addition to healthcare the design firm also uses this ‘impact driven’ approach to educational buildings such as the Umubano Primary School in Rwanda. The school utilizes materials and labor sourced locally, and is integrated with the local environment by building the school into a series of terraces in Rwanda’s terrain, which allows for passive ventilation and creates a space that includes the children in a way that one larger building couldn’t.

Umubano Primary School, Kigali, Rwanda from One Planet Pictures on Vimeo.

Building on these success MASS design group is continuing to improve their “impact driven model” to provide the best outcomes for the communities they are building for.

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