LA MAISON DE MASORO  |  Masoro Village Project  



Launched in 1996, the Imidugudu program which relocates rural and low-income dwellers into planned housing has been reshaping both urban and rural landscape in Rwanda. Under this program, current land owners can trade their property for housing plots, leaving many renters to search outside cities and villages for shelter. In rural areas, those living in the dispersed settlements are now being congregated to remote sites, often away from their families, jobs, and the relationship they have developed with the landscape that formed out of an agrarian tradition. The Imidugudu program has been both controversial and transformative. Often left out of the equation, however are low-income Rwandans who either do not own land or can not afford to resettle.


Since 2008, GA Collaborative has been working with villagers in Masoro to design housing and accompanying gathering spaces. The act of planning, designing, and constructing housing in Rwanda is an act of engaging the Rwandans’ right to space. GA Collaborative has been researching for viable housing models with low-income Rwandans with this in mind.

The Masoro Village Project was initiated to bring design thinking to Masoro in the form of new housing. The first house built in 2013 used low-impact building materials, engaged mostly unskilled local labor, and was a vehicle to test and teach building techniques new to Rwanda.



Committed to reduce importation of construction materials, GA Collaborative introduced EarthBags 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 which can be packed with excavated earth and used to form stable load-bearing walls. To teach villagers how to construct stable structures, GA Collaborative invited an EarthBag building expert to conduct a month-long workshop. Earthbag construction is comprised mainly from soil on site which reduces transportation and material costs. 

GA Collaborative also worked with women in Masoro to leverage local weaving techniques to create design solutions at an architectural scale. Beyond generating visual separations between kitchen, front terrace and bath, the woven screens break down many of the gender roles associated with building construction in Rwanda.



To sustain the newly gained knowledge within the country, GA Collaborative worked closely with local architecture students from the University of Rwanda (formerly the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology) who were involved with the project at every stage, and worked side-by-side with the villagers. The project has had wide support throughout Masoro where villagers are now planning additional EarthBag buildings and teaching others these new construction skills.




  • Design Phase:  November 2011 – June 2013

  • Construction Phase:  June - September 2013



  • Masoro Sector,  Rulindo District,  Northern Province,  Rwanda



  • Housing


  • Earthbags
  • Recycled Polypropylene rope, Sisal Rope
  • Wood
  • Corrugated Steel Sheeting
  • Glass
  • Steel


  • Built Area - 86 m² (gross)


  • $10,820 US Dollars



  • Michael Leighton Beaman
  • Killian Doherty
  • Zaneta Hong
  • James Setzler
  • Yutaka Sho

Student Collaborators:

  • Doreen Ingabire
  • Rene Isabane
  • Patrice Ndababonye
  • Theophile Uwayezu


  • Association Icyerekezo

  • People of Masoro Sector





  • Association Icyerekezo
  • GA Collaborative
  • Doreen Ingabire
  • Rene Isabane
  • Patrice Ndababonye
  • Theophile Uwayezu




  • Dr. Johnny Anderton, Eternally Solar,  South Africa
  • GA Collaborative
  • Riaan Hough,  EarthKaya,  South Africa
  • Student Collaborators
  • Great Lake Energy, Rwanda
  • Earthenable,  USA


  • University of Virginia,  School of Architecture


  • Arnold W. Brunner Grant,  NY Center for Architecture
  • GA Collaborative
  • Individual Donors
  • StitchWorks + Fund-A-House
  • Syracuse University,  School of Architecture