The Masoro Health Center in Rwanda is a public campus offering comprehensive healthcare and wellness programs, improved hygiene standards, and spaces open for all community members regardless of their health or financial status. The project navigates Rwanda’s severe topography through a series of terraces differentiating curative services, administrative functions, preventive care, maternity services and public gathering.
In low-income and rural regions like Masoro, education and prevention are crucial for improving health, and as a public health strategy requires buy-in and trust from the community. The Center is designed to be a public space where people from the area feel welcome to visit even when not in need of care. We used the entirety of the architectural process, from planning to post-occupancy evaluation, as a means to achieve an inclusive and holistic approach to wellness, taking on the coordination of partner groups and the construction management in addition to design. We directed funds to hire and train local residents to construct the project, especially women who are seldom invited to participate in constructing the built environment. Local builders in turn gained skills, income, future work in the construction industry from this project.
Our approach to the site, defined by steep slopes and rough terrain, was culturally specific and community focused. Rather than continuing with the conventional approach of building fortress-like retaining walls, we dispersed these elements throughout the site, to compose a series of terraces which differentiate programs and provide openness. Where possible, we displaced the heavy and intensive retaining walls using alternate scoring patterns along slopes to plant native grasses, slowing water run-off.
The result is a diverse and varied spatial experience where the interior, exterior, pathways and distant rolling hills are integrated to provide accessibility and physical and visual connections, privileging pedestrians, and providing flexibility for current and future needs.