Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors Goes Back to Nature | NONAGON.style
Rwandan Doctors’ Dorm Goes Back to Nature with Eucalyptus and Clay

Rwandan Doctors’ Dorm Goes Back to Nature with Eucalyptus and Clay

Creative design on tight budget for Rwanda dormitory

Written by –
NONAGON.style Team
on July 23rd 2018
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Project:

Shared Houses

Photographer:

When tasked with creating a much-needed doctors’ dormitory in rural Rwanda, the design team from Sharon Davis Design were free to let their creativity run wild. The only caveat? That little issue of a tight budget, of course. Yet instead of letting this issue scale back their design, the team opted for a back to nature approach which saved on the money and environmental front. Let’s take a closer look.

Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Rural outdoor facade with eucalyptus screen wall detail | NONAGON.style

Design For the Community

Perched on a hillside in rural Rwinkwavu, the Share Houses provide temporary housing for medical professionals working at Rwinkwavu Hospital.

Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Rural outdoor facade of the Shared Houses with eucalyptus screen wall and clay roof tile detail | NONAGON.style
Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Rural outdoor facade of the Shared Houses with mixed brick and eucalyptus screen wall detail | NONAGON.style

The 6,900-square-foot lodgings are part of a wider urban planning document masterminded by the Rwandan Village Enterprises for Partners in Health, the Rwandan Ministry of Health and New York-based Sharon Davis Design.

 

Community is particularly important to this project, and the design plan will be closely guided by the needs and aspirations of the local villagers. To this end, a Community Design Workshop offered professionals an insight as to what would work best for the village.

Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Communal shared lounge with simple bench seating and exposed brick wall | NONAGON.style

A Village Within a Village

One of the main aspirations for the Shared Houses was a desire to enhance connections between medical staff and the wider community. This was achieved by creating a ‘village within a village’.

Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Outdoor balcony attached to a private bedroom with views of the countryside | NONAGON.style
Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Shared recreational room with wood furnishings and sloped roof | NONAGON.style

The individual bedrooms, for instance, boast their own private exterior with large overhangs for rain and heat protection. Looking out on views of the valley to the west, this helps its occupants have a visual sense of connection to the local village.

Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Shared recreational room with wood bench seating and sloped roof | NONAGON.style
Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Bathroom with wood panel shower and light | NONAGON.style

Elsewhere, shared bathrooms and spacious communal lounges foster community within the Shared Houses. Bench seating and long communal tables further encourage conversation and interaction.

Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Eucalyptus screen wall and sloped roof detail | NONAGON.style

Back to Nature

The design makes the most of its hot, dry hillside site and tight budget with a little help from nature.

Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Locally sourced clay bricks | NONAGON.style

All of the construction materials were sourced from within Rwanda, with most coming from the immediate neighboring areas. Local stone was quarried for all foundations and walkways. The clay bricks were handmade by the local village women’s cooperative.

Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Candid construction details | NONAGON.style
Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Covered walkway with eucalyptus screen wall and exposed brick detail | NONAGON.style
Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Candid construction details | NONAGON.style

Locally-sourced clay tiles were used for the ventilated roof cavity. In addition to being cost effective, these clay tiles were an ideal choice for thermal and acoustic performance.

 

I especially love the use of Eucalyptus to create a screened exterior. The Eucalyptus provides enclosure and privacy while still allowing for a sense of the outdoors. It’s also a nice connection to the more traditional way of building here in Rwanda.

 

Environmental concerns aside, the project also stands out for its dedication to benefiting local women.  Approximately 90 per cent of the construction labor was local to the village, with women representing a minimum of one third of the staff throughout the entire process.

Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Night exterior | NONAGON.style

Final Thoughts

For the Sharon Davis Design team, success is measured as much by social benefit as it is by aesthetic accomplishment. We think it’s pretty fair to say that the Shared Houses project epitomizes this to a tee.

Rwanda Dormitory for Doctors: Night exterior | NONAGON.style

Though it remains to be seen how the dormitory impacts the community, it’s clear that even the early construction process has been of huge social benefit to the village of Rwinkwavu. Generating work for the local community is an obvious way the Shared Houses project has done good. It’s also been a fantastic rallying point for the community, bringing together the whole village in a project that ultimately stands to benefit them all. We can’t wait to see what the next phase of the development process brings.

Want to see more like this? Check out the Tapestry Couch project! Or how about this story all about the transformation of ocean debris?

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