Building Neighborhoods that Build Social and Economic Prosperity, Kigali, Rwanda
University of Arkansas Community Design Center
How do you transfer the social sensibility of an African village to urban hillside development? Architecture students at the University of Arkansas teamed up with the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology to deliver a convivial scheme that features diagonal pedestrian roads, flexible building types, agricultural fields, and energy generation from waste management.
The site was specific. But the proposal, presented to the Ministry of Infrastructure in Kigali, is replicable and addresses Rwanda’s hilly topography, limited resources, and rapid urbanization. “They’re amazing farmers, with co-ops and handicraft skills,” says Stephen Luoni, Assoc. AIA, director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center. “The people writing the checks for housing are mostly western developers and NGOs, and their vision of prosperity is the American suburban house. This is really a policy document for Rwandans so they’ll know what to ask for.”
The 4-meter planning modules can be stacked three stories for one extended family or divided into living and working flats. Open stairways, balconies, and plazas create the social and spatial porosity that defines the village aesthetic. And with no mechanical systems to moderate the hot climate, it is important that the units breathe.
This complex project “generated a pattern for the community in response to the landscape and other forces,” a judge said. “It speaks to the interests of a lot of people coming out of school right now.”
Principals in charge: Stephen Luoni, Assoc. AIA, University of Arkansas Community Design Center; Peter Rich, FAIA, Peter Rich Architects, Johannesburg, South Africa; Timothy Hall, Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, Kigali, Rwanda
Design team: University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture, University of Arkansas Community Design Center, Peter Rich Architects, Kigali Institute of Science and Technology
Unit size: 650 square feet to 1,000 square feet
Site size: 30 acres
Units in project: 1,600
Renderings: University of Arkansas Community Design Center