GA Collaborative, Rwanda, earthbags, humanitarian design, research, sustainable building, Masaro, University of Rwanda

Emerging from a research project and seeing how low-income areas were not considered for a planned housing program, GA Collaborative began working with Masoro village in 2008 to design housing and public spaces. Side by side, architects, students, and villagers completed the first prototype home in 2013.

The project was restricted by financial resources, so the house was built using earthbag construction – a construction method first introduced to Rwanda by GA Collaborative. Earthbags are woven polypropylene bags that are filled up with soil from the building site. Earthbags were originally used to construct military bunkers, however they can also be used to create durable, sustainable dwellings for civilians. The load-bearing walls are stabilized by the packed earthbags, which are covered with additional soil from the site.

GA Collaborative, Rwanda, earthbags, humanitarian design, research, sustainable building, Masaro, University of Rwanda

This construction method reduces material costs and provides reliable resources for the teams to build. The team also worked with women in the village to integrate weaving techniques into the house. Working together with students and recent graduates from the University of Rwanda, the project has engaged villagers and students alike to help facilitate change through design and education.

Related: Helical Earthbag Shelter Built by Taliesin Student

Today, the Masoro Village Project continues to develop, and the second building is currently under construction. It will serve as an office to plan more projects and material storage, but eventually it will be converted into a home as new projects develop. Buildings are constructed, but the process never stops.

+ GA Collaborative

Images via GA Collaborative