Kate  Spade & Co. approached GAC early in 2013 about working with Association Dushy, a cooperative group of artisans located in Masoro, Rwanda, to help in crafting handmade goods for their three brands: Kate Spade, Jack Spade, and Kate Spade Saturdays.  The project entitled On Purpose is an initiative started by Kate Spade & Co. to identify craftspeople in developing countries to partner with. They provide financial and management training and an initial influx of funding for equipment and facility upgrades to kick-start the partnership, with the intent that their future involvement is one of expand Association Dushy’s  market reach through partnerships rather than providing financial aid. In their words,  "the concept of ON PURPOSE is empowering, new and unique: we're teaching a group of 150 women in Masoro, Rwanda to become a profitable supplier to Kate Spade + Company brands. Our goal is for their economic stability to positively transform the entire community. (That's 20,000 people.)"


The focus on facilitating the independence to cooperatives and  emerging groups of artists and craftspeople through education and access aligned well with our mission to empower people to have a greater impact on their own built environment.  We began developing a relationship with Kate Spade & Co by sharing our research and experiences working in Rwanda,and with the people of Masoro since 2008. From those discussions the needs of the Association Dushy and Kate Spade & Co partnership came into focus as well as an understanding of how this endeavor could benefit the village of Masoro as a whole.




As the goals of the project became clear we helped develop various scenarios for providing workshop, storage, administrative, and community spaces.  Each proposal incorporated workspaces, community gathering spaces, storage, and basic amenities.  

As part of our proposals, we set forth recommendations to incorporate plant cultivation and topographic stabilization techniques to insure that the project site was  structurally stable providing longevity existing buildings, proposed buildings and future expansion.  In the end we had enough funding to make a series of design interventions, which included architecture and landscape improvements, new buildings, expanded infrastructure, and  a group of exterior spaces for both work and community gathering.



The collection of existing buildings, renovated areas, and needs for new spaces; coupled with the site topography made developing a clear flow of materials challenging. The steps that turn  raw materials to finished products is just one portion of the overall manufacturing processes: 1. incoming shipments - 2. unloading - 3. storage -  4.5. + 6. processing + crafting - 7. packaging + storage - 8. loading - 9. outgoing shipments.  The flow of materials into and out of a variety of spaces and cross severe topographical changes meant the project design had to consider the circulation of materials and the limitations that that  imposes on interior and exterior spaces as a design problem itself.

Our solution was to incorporate a collection of retaining walls (either as short free-standing elements, or as building foundations) that divide up the ground plane into a series of moderately sloping to near horizontal surfaces; each surface  finished with materials that correspond to it’s slope profile and programmatic needs: concrete, porous pavers, grasses, agricultural plants, and trees.  This also allowed us to pair retaining walls with programmatic elements to create areas for small programs such as  wash basins, seating, stairs, or ramps, when needed.  



Existing buildings, in various states of disrepair, formed the beginnings of a campus. We expanded this logic in the placement of new buildings and in the location of retaining walls interior to the site which allowed us to define various exterior spaces. Three new structures (workshop, storage building, and bathrooms) complemented the renovation of  two existing structures (administrative building and  small workshop) along with exterior spaces ( outdoor workshop and loading area). 
The various elevational changes correspond to changes in the scale of the material people are working with. Raw materials are delivered in large formats (sheets, rolls, full length elements) and remain on that delivery level until divided into smaller pieces, or products, which then move up to other works spaces, storage, packaging, and so forth. By dividing the topography of the workshop campus into levels we were able to reduce the need for ramps and double vertical circulation space with other programs.




  • Design + Consulting Phase: 04.2013 - 07.2013

  • Construction Phase:  08.2013 - 12.2013



  • Masoro Sector,  Rulindo District,  Northern Province,  Rwanda



  • Workspace
  • Community Facilities


  • n/a


  • Built Area - X m² (gross)


  • Withheld at owners request



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



  • Kate Spade & Co.
  • Association Dusykigriane





  • n/a


  • n/a


  • n/a


  • Kate Spade & Co.