General Architecture Collaborative is a nonprofit architecture and landscape architecture design firm focused on housing, healthcare, and educational projects that serve underrepresented, vulnerable and developing communities. Our goal is to bring together individuals and organizations interested in contributing to innovative, impactful and empowering design projects that build sustainable and socially equitable spaces, with communities who might benefit most from these projects. We help funders navigate unfamiliar building processes and cultures, and work to ensure a community’s needs and aspirations are part of a collaborative process and reflected in the spaces we create. Our approach to collaboration is grounded in community engagement, training & education, and design research & innovation. These three principles guide our design process and project implementation.
Founded in 2008, GA Collaborative is a group of design practitioners and educators with experience in architecture, landscape architecture, industrial design and the visual arts. We have been involved with projects in Albania, Bangladesh, Burundi, Haiti, Japan, Nepal, Rwanda, Uganda and the United States. Our projects have a broad range in scale, program and complexity. Currently, our central offices are located in New York, United States and Kigali, Rwanda.
GAC is a 501-C3 registered non-profit in all 50 states of the US. We have an association agreement with our for-profit entity, GAC-R, based in Kigali, Rwanda for our East African projects. Funding partners can directly engage GAC-R, or GAC can partner with those who have a shared vision for projects, to accept donations in the US.
We bring the value of design to communities with little access to it. We work with end-users to understand their needs, desires, inherent resources and future aspirations. The end-users and funders are involved in the design and construction process from beginning to end. We believe that to make healthy and livable spaces, we have to foster community engagement through effective outreach and participatory practices. But we are aware that it is difficult for people to take time off from work. That is why we strive to turn our construction processes into educational and training workshops for income generation.
EDUCATION & TRAINING
As a non-profit organization, our goal is to ensure our client-communities with a future of enhanced self-sufficiency and independence while strengthening community ties. We work with communities and partners to develop best building practices, and we share our knowledge and expertise throughout the design and construction process. We prioritize education and training through the mentoring and employing of architecture and design students from local universities, and by employing locally-based cooperatives. We work in partnership with local artisans to promote their talents and know-how. And we simultaneously learn and incorporate these local practices and culturally-specific materials and techniques in our buildings through design innovation.
DESIGN RESEARCH & INNOVATION
We believe that effective design is both grounded in site-specific conditions and progressive in a shared vision of a sustainable future. Our designs are responsive to social, economic and environmental contexts and the needs of inhabitants. At the same time we do not shy away from critically analyzing the built-environment and propose alternative operational modes. For us, design innovation comes from integrating strategic approaches and critical reflections; and through experimentation, accessible technologies and applied research, we can effect positive