The Learning and Sports Center is located among the rolling hills of Masoro in rural Rwanda. The Center provides a library, classrooms, technology education rooms, indoor exercise spaces, community and teaching gardens, outdoor theaters, a basketball court and a community soccer field, all of which are accessible to the community members free of charge. The project is a collection of interior and exterior spaces that provide a safe and secure environment for learning, play, and wellness.
During the construction period, GAC hired 390 builders from the surrounding neighborhoods, 54% of whom were women. They received pension contributions, breakfast and lunch, and safety training and equipment. The site and time of construction were designed to offer the community builders training opportunities in sustainable and durable construction techniques including Modern Brick construction, and screen weaving using local grasses and bark. Off-the-grid infrastructures such as rainwater harvesting and biodigester were implemented. Unlike typical Rwandan institutions surrounded by fortress-like walls, the Center uses parameter buildings to create a sense of security across multiple small courtyards. The surrounding slopes were used to provide seating to define an existing soccer field for sport and community events. Excess soil from excavation was turned into compressed soil blocks for future construction.
GAC partnered with community leaders and education and health NGOs to ensure that this Center became an actively used space for and by the community. After opening, GAC acted as the facilities director and oversaw the hiring and training of local managers. Today, community members decide how to use it collectively as a common. During the pandemic, it became the hub for disseminating knowledge and supplies necessary for keeping the community safe. The harvest from the gardens has been given to reduce the risk of malnutrition in local mothers and their children. Books in the library were accessible to children during the pandemic, so they could continue to learn when schools were closed. But it has become a center of Masoro long before the pandemic, because the Center’s inclusive design and construction processes were able to garner the community ownership.