Soul of Nations Foundation x MASS Design Group Workshop 1
KIGALI, RWANDA — August 13, 2020
Rwandan participants from the Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project had the opportunity to engage in the first workshop held by MASS Design Group at the Rwanda Art Museum. During the workshop, the participants explored culture, home, and stability through various forms of artistic media and technology, design. The participants were split into groups of three while focusing on the themes related to the project. Each lesson plan topic was guided by the following MASS Design Group team members: Noella Nibakuze, Amie Shao, Christelle Muhimpundu, and Miguel Signes.
After the workshop, the participants regrouped to reflect on the focus their individual and collaborative artistic and architectural concepts for the public exhibition affiliated with the project. Special thanks to MASS Design Group for leading this phenomenal workshop and helping our project participants to understand the depth and complexity of the underlying themes related to green architecture and environmental stability.
Meet the MASS Design Group Team
NOELLA NIBAKUZE joined MASS in 2017 and is a registered architect with 7 years of experience. As a Design Associate, Noella works on architectural design, construction administration, building technology, and sustainability. Before being a Site Architect for the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture, a 1400 ha campus in Bugesera District, she worked on the design of Masaka Affordable Housing project, a high-density and sustainable model for affordable housing in Rwanda set on a 5 ha site. Before joining MASS, Noella was an Architect at Studio 4 Architects in Rwanda, where she worked on housing complexes, residential units, hotels and education facilities including Vision City Estate, the biggest residential housing project in Rwanda to date. She completed her Post-Graduate degree of Architectural Technology at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria in 2012. Noella has an interest in projects that have a positive impact on vulnerable communities in Africa and hopes to improve people’s lives through a built environment that promotes sustainability and justice. In 2018, Noella participated in the United States’ TechWomen program as an Emerging Leader.
AMIE SHAO is a Principal at MASS where she leads the MASS. Made team in interior design and space planning, testing and fabrication, and furniture design for office and healthcare spaces, in addition to user and community engagement. Her work is aimed at engaging and empowering stakeholders in the design process; creating human-centered environments that are functional, adaptable, and mission-driven; and supporting and substantiating the impact of design on health, social, and environmental outcomes. Currently, she is leading the design and production of furniture for the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture, a project whose interior design reflects a balance between modernity and traditional Rwandan crafts, while taking into account the unique needs of all campus users, including students, faculty, and the local community. Apart from leading designs, she has also been involved in research on the future of healthcare spaces and interactions. She received her Master of Architecture and a Certificate in Urban Policy & Planning from Princeton University.
CHRISTELLE MUHIMPUNDU joined MASS in 2018 as part of expanding interior design and FFE team. She’s worked on several projects including UGHE Office Expansion, African Leadership University Kigali Heights, MASS’s Kigali office renovations, and Butaro Oncology. For the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture, Christelle led the coordination of furniture design and layouts with interiors for over 18,500 square meters of academic, conference, laboratories, offices, and residential spaces; assisted with manufacturer communication and fabrication quality assurance; and supervised the installation of furniture and interior products. Born and raised in Bujumbura, Burundi, Christelle journeyed to Drexel University to receive her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 2007. Thereafter, she graduated in 2018 with her Master of Fine Art in Interior Design, from the New York School of Interior Design, where her thesis focused on the redesign of the Gakinjiro furniture market as a maker space in Kigali. Christelle is passionate about exploring how designers can utilize local craftsmanship and artistry to create adequate spaces that reflect the identity of the community it is serving.
MIGUEL SIGNES joined MASS in January 2019 as a product designer. From that time he has been supporting the FF&E team to develop high standard quality furniture combining the local industries and traditional crafts. He has worked on several projects including the Rwanda Institute of Conservation Agriculture, the Ellen Degeneres Campus – Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, and African Leadership University, focusing on developing products with local artisans, as well as the interior design and locally made furniture implementation for several large scale projects at MASS. Miguel was born and grew up in Valencia, Spain. Prior to joining MASS, he was a furniture and interior designer, working for multiple international furniture brands and clients. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design Engineering and Product Development from the CEU Cardenal Herrera University of Valencia. He is passionate about generating strategies to empower local crafters and communities as a high-value factor for the contemporary industry.
During the site visit, MASS Design Group gave a presentation to the Rwandan participants explaining the design phases of the site at RICA. MASS also gave the participants a tour of the site while explaining the day-to-day operations and their vision for the future.
During the Zoom call, both U.S. and Rwandan participants introduced themselves and participated in an icebreaker where every participant was asked to bring an object that reminds them of the concept of Participants also met Soul of Nations Foundation project coordinator, Ernest Hill; U.S. Embassy Kigali representative, Claudine Neshimwe; and the project’s lead artist mentor, Nanibah Chacon.
MASS Design Group is serving as a project partner for the Soul of Nations Foundation’s Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project in Rwanda. Through this partnership, MASS will lead workshops, provide design and materials support, and lead site visits for our project participants in Rwanda.
When thinking broadly of architecture, the masterpieces of the past inevitably come to mind; buildings constructed to withstand the passage of time, that have found an ally in age, cementing themselves in the history of humanity. According to aesthetic and practical architectural standards of urban society, traditional housing structures of Native American nations, in the southwestern region of the United States of America, utilize similar construction techniques of the Rwandese when analyzing wigwam nomadic housing structures from the Pueblos alongside the East African daub housing structures
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