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Soul of Nations Foundation x MASS Design Group Visit RICA

KIGALI, RWANDA — August 14, 2020
Rwandan participants from the Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project had the opportunity to engage in a site visit at the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) construction site in Bugesera. The site visit was lead by MASS Design Group. During the visit, MASS gave a presentation to the 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. 
MASS Design Group is partnering with the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) and Remote Group in order to design and build their new campus in Bugesera, Rwanda. MASS led the master planning, architecture, landscape, and engineering design for the new campus, and Remote Group is currently leading construction with construction administration support from MASS. 
The campus design includes landscape, housing, academic space, barn storage, and processing space for the institute. Each academic building across the campus is dedicated to one of the six different agricultural enterprises, both plant- and animal-based, that students will study and engage with throughout their three years at the institute. More mechanized practices are situated on the West end of the campus, and smallholder first-year student farms are placed on the East end. The campus uses pivot irrigation and will be energy independent, with its own solar farm and water treatment plant. 
The curriculum and campus design at RICA are informed by Conservation Agriculture and One Health Principles, both of which emphasize the interlinking of ecological, animal, and human health. The campus and curriculum seek to reinforce these principles by taking an interdisciplinary, experiential approach to learning, with a campus that promotes biodiversity, ecological conservation, and community participation. RICA will soon be a world leader in experiential education, research, and conservation agriculture. 

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Rwandan participants from the Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project had the opportunity to engage in the first in-person orientation for the Green Architecture Project followed by a series of meetings/convenings for program development. 
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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