The magnificent stone walls of Butaro

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The magnificent stone walls of Butaro


Designer/artist: Marie Nyiranshimiyimana ‘Kankwazi’ / MASS Design Group

Year: 2011

Description: The unique stonework of the Butaro Hospital in Burera, Rwanda is constructed using innovative ‘jigsaw’ joinery – a technique developed on-site during the building of the hospital in 2011, and now replicated in other parts of Rwanda. The technique makes use of local materials, such as nearby volcanic rock from the Virunga Mountains which has typically been considered a nuisance for farmers clearing their fields.

About the designer: Marie Nyiranshimiyimana, better known as Kankwazi, is one of the first and only female masons in her region of Rwanda, who learned her trade while working on the Butaro Hospital project designed by MASS Architects. She specializes in craft innovation of local volcanic rock as building material, a process invented in and unique to Butaro. Her story is framed as an example of how architecture can empower and inspire women in communities across the world.

Image credit: The Magnificent Stone Walls of Butaro, as seen at massdesigngroup.org