Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Region is sadly notorious for violence on women. In the fight against gender based-violence, the Kilimanjaro Women Information Exchange and Consultancy Organization (KWIECO) collaborated with the Finnish government and non-profit Ukumbi to build the KWIECO women’s Shelter House, a refuge made with local materials. Designed by Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects, the brightly colored Shelter House has provided housing for victims of domestic violence since March 2015.
Founded in 1987 in Moshi, Tanzania, KWIECO works to promote “human rights, economic justice, and gender equality by ensuring equal access to justice and equality for women and children.” The KWIECO Shelter House embodies those principles in its design crafted to foster a feeling of shared ownership. Painted bright yellow, the Shelter House is divided into two phases: the first phase, completed earlier this year, primarily consists of housing; the second phase will include spaces for community education, capacity building, and KWIECO office spaces. The second phase’s community spaces and offices will wrap around the existing structures to “create a protecting volume for the Shelter.”
The Shelter House’s main gate greets visitors and residents with artwork of a Tanzanian kanga skirt and the printed Swahili message: “Equal rights for all are the basis of development.” In addition to drawing inspiration from the local culture, the architecture was also directed by the desire to minimize environmental impact. The large covered open-air spaces promote natural ventilation, while providing protection from the sun and rain. To minimize reliance on electricity in the daytime, the architects installed roof windows and recycled glass bottles to bring natural light into the rooms. Water is heated using low-tech solar heaters. Local natural materials, such as bamboo and banana leaves were used to construct the ceilings and doors.
Images via Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects