This newly completed education center in Nyanza, Rwanda is a subtle design that uses local materials and crafts with a sophisticated layout to provide for a multitude of community needs. Designed by Dominikus Stark Architekten, the structure has been purposely built using simple building forms and established local building materials arranged in a way that creates multiple layers of spaces in a contemporary form. The passively cooled complex was constructed completely with local labor and materials like clay adobe bricks, steel, wicker and papyrus.
The outward face of the complex is largely protected, and you can find just a public internet café and coffeehouse accessible from the road. The buildings maintain a courtyard house, a library, laboratory, classrooms, and a main hall that is used as a cafeteria and social gathering space for private events. By providing multiple venues the complex hopes to become a central social and learning hub for the two towns it is situated between.
The inner courtyard is highlighted by a glazed vestibule on one side, and a row of wicker doors on the other. The transitions protect the interior from a hot sun and the thermal mass of the clay brick walls and natural ventilation through the wicker doors maintains a comfortable climate inside. Openings set high in the exterior adobe brick walls allow hot stale air to escape. Interior ceilings are finished in papyrus reeds – a robust grass that replaces scarce wood. The roof collects rainwater as well to supplement the precious local supply.