Maison de Masoro
Maison de Masoro
EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES THROUGH SELF-BUILT HOMES
Housing is one of the most coveted and deficient commodities in rural Rwanda. While a bag of cement cost 10,000 Rwandan francs (RWF), about 15 US dollars, workers in our project village earn an average of 1,000 RWF per day. It is difficult to find viable financial systems that supports low-cash-income people in home construction in Rwanda and in the world. GAC builds for and with the poorest of the community, while seeking alternative home financing methods with donors and partners. At the completion of the Masoro house construction, our workers created Association Icyerekezo, a builders’ association, to build homes for each other.
CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE SPACES
In Rwandan cultural practices, a covered outdoor breezeway that separates the living and kitchen/utility spaces is useful for drying beans and casavas during the rainy seasons. Due to large family sizes typical in rural areas, residents often close off breezeways to expand their living space, and consequently bathrooms and kitchens become bedrooms. The house design provided all rooms to be accessible from an exterior corridor. The introduction of this new space freed the living room of multiple doors and offered additional outdoor workspace.
From our workshops with the local villagers, we discovered the importance of the exterior corridor as a custom particular to rural Rwanda. Men cannot be allowed to marry unless he has built a home for his new family. Low-income couples may have children, but they remain unmarried. Single women can be hired as live-in domestic help, but this has been proven to be difficult for men. In the design of Masoro house, bedrooms with individual exterior doors can be rented to single men, while also creating extra income for empty-nesters.
INCLUSIVE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION PROCESSES
Formal and informal workshops and fact-finding discussions were conducted to ensure that the Masoro villagers’ aspirations and needs were incorporated into the final design. In addition, to teach local villagers how to construct stable structures, GAC invited the South African EarthBag expert to conduct a month-long workshop. Likewise, GAC hired local women to weave sisal screens on steel-grated frames to provide visual and physical partitions between the kitchen, front terrace, and bathroom. By leveraging local weaving techniques to create design solutions at an architectural scale, the screens broke down many of the preconceived gender roles associated with building construction in Rwanda
SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS RESEARCH
Committed to using low-impact building materials, maintaining a low-cost, and engaging predominantly unskilled local labor, GAC introduced EarthBag construction, the first application of its kind in Rwanda. EarthBags, originally developed as a military bunker construction technique, are woven polypropylene bags comprised of three chambers that can be packed with excavated earth and used to form stable load-bearing walls. In addition, finding an alternative to expensive cement flooring, we consulted with Earthenable, who provided the compacted earthen floors finished with natural and local oil-based waterproof solvent.
UTILIZING NATURAL SYSTEMS
Designing homes in rural communities with no access to electricity and indoor plumbing means taking advantage of every natural system possible. Maison de Masoro uses a number of passive ventilation, day-lighting and thermal regulation techniques to make living healthy and comfortable.
Masoro Sector, Rulindo District, Northern Provence, Rwanda
Single Family House & Garden
New Construction: 30 Sq. Meters
Yutaka Sho | Design Principal
James Setzler | Design Principal
Michael Beaman | Design Principal
Zaneta Hong | Design Principal
Patrice Ndababonye | Design Intern
Association Icyerekezo: Construction
GAC-R: Specialty Contractor
Dr. Johnny Anderton & Riaan Hough; EarthKaya | EarthBag Walls
Great Lakes Energy | Solar Power Lamps
Earthenable | Earthen Floors
MATERIALS & TECHNOLOGIES:
WALLS & FOUNDATIONS
EarthBags & Cement-Stabilized EarthBags
Recycled Corrugated Steel
Hand-woven Reed MAtting
Solar Powered Lamps