Last year, MASS Design Group, a young, Boston-based architecture firm, completed a significant and humanitarian commission - the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. The district hospital now serves 400,000 people and has an innovative design to help restrict the spread of infectious disease. It was also built using local craftsmen and materials, and came in under budget. Now, the firm has been recognized for its work, winning a Zumtobel Award in the category of "Built Environment."
The Butaro Hospital, in the Burera District of Rwanda is comprised of a number of buildings set on a hilltop location. Principles of natural ventilation and passive solar design help moderate temperatures and reduce energy use within the hospital. Largely though, the hospital’s design was focused on mitigation and reduction of the transmission of airborne diseases. MASS collaborated with Partners in Health and Harvard Medical Center to develop and implement systems, like overall layout, patient and staff flow, and natural ventilation to minimize disease transmission.
Local laborers and craftsmen were utilized in the construction of the hospital, which not only supported the local economy, but also gave the local people a sense of ownership of the new facility. Local volcanic rock from the Virunga Mountain Chain was used to construct many of the facility’s walls and now the local masonry team is in especially high demand for their skills. The use of local materials and labor helped reduce the overall cost of construction, which was two-thirds of what a hospital of this size would typically cost in Rwanda.
MASS Design Group was founded by six students at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design – Michael Murphy, Marika Shioiri-Clark, Ryan Leidner, Alda Ly, Alan Ricks, and David Saladik. The team was approached to help Partners in Health design and build the 150-bed facility, and now after the successful project, the team is working on many more humanitarian projects for other global NGOs like the World Heatlth Organization and USAID. Their mission is to use architecture and design to affect change and empower people through development. So far, much of their work has largely been pro bono, but they hope that a combination of fee and pro bono work can sustain the firm.
Read more about this amazing firm at Metropolis Magazine.