Education centre in Rwanda built from brick
and wicker by Dominikus Stark Architekten

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Red brick buildings wrap around an elevated piazza at this education centre in Rwanda by German office Dominikus Stark Architekten (+ slideshow).

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten

Dominikus Stark Architekten used over half a million handmade clay bricks to build the walls, floors and columns of the Education Centre Nyanza, which is located on a road between the towns of Kigali and Butare.

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten

The original brief called for a sheltered forecourt to extend a small existing building. The programme later expanded to encompass various educational projects, forming a self-contained complex where teaching rooms are clustered around a courtyard.

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten

Comparing the design to local agrarian architecture, Dominikus Stark explained: "The complex, in analogy to local building tradition, is set like a boulder in the landscape."

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten

There are no openings in the outer walls of the complex, as all windows face inwards towards the central piazza. An internet cafe at the southern entrance to the site is the only space that opens to the surroundings.

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten

Narrow patios and brick columns create intermediate spaces between the courtyard and the surrounding rooms, which include a library, a language lab, three classrooms and an administration block.

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten

Ceilings are made from thin sheets of papyrus, while wicker doors and gates were constructed by local basket makers.

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten

"Local craftsmanship gives the building a simple elegance and combines the various elements of the complex to form a robust, clear unit," said Stark.

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten

A dining hall with one glazed wall allows a variety of different activities - such as talks, parties or even weddings - to spill out into the courtyard.

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten

Gaps in the brickwork facilitate natural ventilation, plus mono-pitched roofs are angled inwards to allow rainwater to be collected and recycled.

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten

Photography is by Florian Holzherr.

Here's a project description from Dominikus Stark Architekten:


Education Centre Nyanza, Rwanda

The Central African State of Rwanda, commonly known as the "land of a thousand hills", is rarely the focus of West European interests. On a private initiative, on the road in Nyanza connecting the country's most important towns Kigali and Butare, a new IT Centre has been built. While the initial order was to design a new roof over a forecourt, after first discussions the idea was born to build a training centre with lighthouse character, with a future-oriented curriculum and training options.

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten
Site plan

In the agrarian structure, the complex - in analogy to local building tradition - is set like a boulder in the landscape. New buildings grouped around a central piazza integrate the existing building into the new layout. The individual buildings have no outward-facing openings, but are oriented to and open up to the centre. Only the publicly accessible internet cafe with copy shop opens up to the outside and forms the forecourt and entrance to the facility.

Education Center Nyanza Ruanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten_dezeen_13
Floor plan - click for larger image

Inner courtyards and rows of columns form a filter between the buildings and the central piazza in the middle. The resulting refuge options permit parallel usage. Only the dining hall, which is also used for weddings and movie evenings, opens directly onto the main piazza and resolves the spatial boundary to the exterior. The buildings' language of colour and form makes reference to local materials. Clay, the traditional building material, manually processed to form fired clay bricks, has been used for the whole complex. The reduction to three basic materials - bricks, steel, and wickerwork - as construction, protection, surfacing or decoration with function, recurs throughout the entire building.

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten
Section one - click for larger image

A simple ventilation concept in combination with the thermal storage capacity of the solid brick walls provides a comfortable indoor climate. The way the roof structure is oriented to the inner courtyard also has a functional background: the gathering of rainwater, which is so precious in these latitudes. Because of the shortage of wood, it is not used for building purposes. Local craftsmanship such as the papyrus ceiling linings or the wickerwork of the restaurant doors and courtyard gates made by local basket makers gives the building a simple elegance and combines the various elements of the complex to form a robust, clear unit. The involvement of local craftsmen and others promotes acceptance and contributes to economic and architectural sustainability.

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten
Section two - click for larger image

Project: Education Centre
Location: Nyanza, Rwanda
Architect: Dominikus Stark Architekten
Project Area: 5500 m²
Civil Contractors: Stanbuild

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten
Section three - click for larger image

Functions: administration, classrooms, language laboratory, library, kitchen, dining room, internet cafe and copy shop
Area of facility: 2400 sqm
Effective area: 1000 sqm
Numbers of bricks: 575,000 bricks
Visible length of joints: 150,000 m
Length of papyrus: 24.000 lfm
Weight of chimney: 52.000 kg
Brick manufacturers: local one-man-companies, burned in a cooperative
Brick size: 200 x 100 x 62mm

Clay brick education centre in Rwanda by Dominikus Stark Architekten
Brick wall detail - click for larger image

Members of staff: Markus Seifert, Adi Wiesenhofer
Consultant structural engineer: Marcel Enzweiler
Materials used: Handmade bricks; steel, wicker, papyrus

  • asolitarywave

    This is gorgeous. The first image had me thinking of Aalto’s Säynätsalo Town Hall.

  • Romain_M

    Beautiful! The plan brings fortified farms to mind.

  • asolitarywave

    Ha. Your comment must have been with the mods when I wrote mine…

  • Sam

    Absolutely beautiful architecture.

  • http://elelefantealbino.blogspot.com/ Mora

    Reminds me somehow the Plastic Arts School in Oaxaca, Mexico. The composition’s simplicity, the materials and colours explicit leitmotiv. Subtle.

  • shasa

    Simply breathtaking.