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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Umubano Primary School in Kigali, Rwanda by MASS Design Group

May 30th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: MASS Design Group


In 2007, UK charity A Partner In Education (APIE), as part of its mission to boost education in Africa, committed to building a new school campus in the Kigali neighborhood of Kabeza to replace dilapidated existing facilities. MASS was brought on board to select the new site, design the new educational facility, as well as assist in building the organizational structure to support the educational programs for the Kabeza neighborhood. The school opened in July of 2011 with H.E. President Paul Kagame  inaugurating the project.

Image Courtesy © Iwan Baan

  • Architects: MASS Design Group
  • Project: Umubano Primary School
  • Location: Kigali, Rwanda
  • Photography: Iwan Baan
  • Design Team: Michael Murphy, Alan Ricks, Sierra Bainbridge, Ebberly Strathairn, Branden Collins, Andrew Brose, Marika Shioiri-Clark, Ryan Leidner, Eric Mutabazi
  • Consultants: Ujenge Construction and Engineering, K. Dohrety
  • Landscape Design: Sierra Bainbridge
  • Client: A Partner In Education (APIE)
  • Built Area: 900 square meters
  • Design Phase: March 2009 – January 2010
  • Construction Phase: January 2010 – July 2011

Image Courtesy © Iwan Baan


The design of the building layout and circulation takes direct inspiration from the neighborhood and the region; due to the hilly landscape, people travel across switchbacks on terraced agricultural land — and the school’s traversing walkways and outdoor classrooms mirror this context. MASS created unique settings for learning with a mix of interior rooms, exterior teaching areas, and terraced play spaces for children.

Image Courtesy © Iwan Baan

Local materials such as brick and papyrus reeds were used in the construction to cut down on transportation costs, limit the use of imported and often contextually inappropriate materials, and to spur the region’s economy by encouraging local markets. MASS collaborated with local craftsmen to incorporate local expertise in the process. The design employs natural ventilation strategies, and the verendeel trusses in the roof structure create clerestory lighting in order to reduce energy consumption.

Image Courtesy © Iwan Baan


– 7 buildings with 9 classrooms, library, computer lab, kitchen, and administrative space
– Mixed interior rooms and exterior teaching areas
– Terraced play spaces

Image Courtesy MASS Design Group

Image Courtesy MASS Design Group

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Category: School

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