Women’s Opportunity Center
Women’s Opportunity Center – Description from Sharon Davis Design.
On a one-hectare site in Rwanda, the most densely populated country in Africa, the Women’s Opportunity Center is a change-making campus that empowers one small community and, in turn, reframes the way we as architects engage the world.
Created in collaboration with our client, Women for Women International—a humanitarian organization helping women survivors of wars rebuild their lives—this mini-village in Rwanda transforms unsustainable urban agglomeration and subsistence farming with an architectural agenda to create economic opportunity, rebuild social infrastructure, and restore cultural heritage.
Change begins in the project’s very building blocks. Our design revives a lost Rwandan housing tradition with rich spatial and social layers. Its circular forms radiate from intimate classrooms to a community space, farmer’s market, guest lodging, and the civic realm beyond. Bricks are made from clay adjacent to the site by the center’s future users, a process that creates income opportunities and spurs social solidarity.
The innovative program includes a demonstration farm that helps women produce and market their own goods, manage a business, and fuel the local economy. Our global network of consultants tapped African entrepreneurs to create water purification, biogas, and other sustainable systems that can now be produced and maintained by Rwandans for Rwandans.
Brick by brick, together with the county’s women, we’re building big change. The Women’s Opportunity Center is a teaching tool that empowers more than 300 women annually to transcend a legacy of conflict. In their lives and stories, we have found the locally inspired grounds for a globally resonant architecture of optimism.
MORE CREDITS – Project Manager: Bruce Engel. Structural Engineer: Osd Engineering. Water Management Engineer: eDesignDynamics. Water Filtration: Manna Energy Ltd. Composting Toilets: Rec Rec Association. Bio-Gas Engineer: CRET Sarl. Rain Cisterns: Water for Life. Cook Stoves: Manna Energy Ltd. Solar Energy: Great Lakes Energy. General Contractor: Three Code Construction. Signage: 2×4. Landscape Design: XS Space and Susan Maurer (Julie Farris).