MASS Design Group
Client: Partners In Health
Butaro Hospital 
Burera, Rwanda
The Burera District was one of the last two districts in Rwanda without a district hospital, and the Butaro hospital is now the first in this region, serving over 400,000 people. Situated on the site of a former military base, Butaro Hospital serves as both a reminder of and a symbol of Rwanda’s incredible transformation since the devastating war of 1994. Using the expertise of infectious disease doctors from Partners in Health and the Harvard Medical School, the Butaro hospital uses innovative design solutions through patient flow and natural ventilation to help mitigate and ultimately reduce the transmission of airborne infections like Tuberculosis.

Much of the initial work for the hospital centered around issues of ward design, both for patient comfort and to maximize natural ventilation systems. The ward designs flip the standard ward layout of beds along the walls with a single corridor down the center, where patients spend their days staring at other sick patients. Instead, these wards were designed along a central half-height conduit wall, which allowed for concealed bedside services, while allowing patients each to have a view of the exterior landscape. 

The design uses nearly all local materials - like the volcanic rock from the Virunga Mountain Chain - in an effort to respond to local conditions and stimulate the economy of the Northern Province.
Great design work cannot happen from afar, but must be embedded within the community it hopes to serve.

Credit: MASS Design Group
Image credit: Iwan Baan

MASS Design Group
Client: Giribuntu Association
Giribuntu School
Kigali, Rwanda

For this project, MASS collaborated on a project to assist the local Rwandan nonprofit Girubuntu Association, which runs an elementary school in Kigali.

Neither party had a clear sense of what they wanted, but simply knew that their current facilities were insufficient and overcrowded. MASS undertook extensive research to understand the organization and its needs, acting as a consultant to ascertain the best direction for the project. The proposal included the results of an extensive collaboration with several education experts, recommending extending the school day, methods to include free lunches at school, and other educational and institutional changes.

The design itself needed to be completed on a very modest budget, but still to act as a new gathering space for the local community. We decided to use brick masonry, a very inexpensive building material, but to pull apart brick settings in certain walls to let in light and air, and to create an iconic identity for the school. The school design includes a large staircase down the hill, connected by a series of open spaces set into the hillside, where larger steps double as seating for outdoor meetings and recreation.

In the final form, clerestory windows ensure adequate natural light, while textured reed ceilings provide far improved sound insulation to the standard exposed corrugated tin ceilings common in Rwanda.

Credit: MASS Design Group
Cleveland, Ohio