Built work:

WOMEN’S OPPORTUNITY CENTER

PROJECT INFORMATION

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Location: Kayonza, Rwanda
Client: Women for Women International
2000 M Street, NW, Suite 200 Washington DC 20036
Contact: 202-737-7705
Size: 22,000 SF
Cost: $1,359,000 USD
Completed: 2012
Services: Programming, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Construction Management, Construction Administration
Consultants:
OSD Engineering (Structural)
eDesignDynamics (Water Management)
XS Space (Julie Farris)  and Susan Maurer (Landscape Design)
Manna Energy Ltd. (Water Filtration, Cook Stoves)
Rec Rec Association (Composting Toilets)
CRET sarl (Bio-gas)
Water for Life (Rain Cisterns)
Great Lakes Energy (Solar Energy)
2X4 (Signage)

PROJECT description

The Women’s Opportunity Center empowers 300 women annually to transcend a legacy of conflict. Designed in collaboration with Women forWomen International—a humanitarian organization that helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives—this mini-village transforms urban agglomeration and subsistence farming with an architectural agenda to create economic opportunity, rebuild social infrastructure, and restore African heritage. Our design revives a lost Rwandan design tradition with deep spatial and social layers. Its circular forms radiate outward, from intimate classrooms at the center of the site to a community space, farmer’s market, and the civic realm beyond.The project includes a demonstration farm that helps women produce and market their own goods. Through compact, easily maintained animal pens and classrooms—cooled by green roofs and retained earth walls—women learn farming and processing methods that can be used to run their own food cooperatives profitably. At the streetside market, women sell food, textiles, baskets, and other products produced on site, as well as potable water harvested from the center’s rooftops. Market spaces can be rented to generate additional income, building a self-sufficient community network in Kayonza. Bricks were made on site by the center’s future users; in crafting the 450,000 clay bricks needed for construction—using materials found on site and a new manual press method we adapted from local techniques – women are learning marketable, income-generating skills. The perforated brick walls allow for passive cooling and solar shading, while maintaining a sense of privacy.  We partnered with local enterprises to create water purification, biogas, and other sustainable systems that can be produced and maintained by  the inhabitants themselves. In place of the polluting pit latrines typically found in Rwanda we have designed simple, hygienic composting toilets that reduce water use while capturing nitrogen-rich solid and liquid waste. The system naturally produces fertilizer to nourish the farm or be sold as part of the site’s revenue-generating strategies.

  A  class in session

 

A  class in session

  A demonstration farm 

 

A demonstration farm