Home Magazine

Video: Rwanda's Christian Benimana Moved to China and Learned Mandarin to Be an Architect

By Dwell @dwell

When he was younger, there wasn't a single architecture school in his country. Now, as part of MASS Design Group, Christian Benimana shares how architecture can heal and inspire Africa.

"To be honest, I had never met an architect before I went to school," says Rwandan architect Christian Benimana. Until 2008 there were no schools of architecture in Rwanda, and there is no word for architect in the native language. Benimana went on a scholarship to Shanghai to study, and had to learn Mandarin to understand his lecturers.

Benimana is the Rwandan program manager for MASS Design Group. As head of their African operations, he has a unique insight into their philosophies and into how their work is impacting the communities they build in.

Benimana is a passionate advocate for the MASS Lo-Fab movement, which encourages architects to hire locally, source materials regionally, train and upskill wherever they can, and invest in dignity. These principles lead to the practice of architecture as a holistic process rather than just a product: architecture that serves the people and aims to deliver basic human rights.

In his talk, Benimana asks a series of questions about the capabilities of the built environment: can a building heal, can a neonatal ward celebrate childhood, and can a health clinic end an epidemic? Can architecture be a catalyst for peace and reconciliation? He answers these questions with moving examples of the work that he has been involved in across 10 countries in Africa, Haiti, and the U.S. In the video, he introduced artisans, craftsmen and carpenters, and members of communities who had been enriched by their involvement with the various MASS projects.

His final example is the peace memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. "In my country, Rwanda, like South Africa and Germany, we've realized that it is important that we erect monuments that help us reflect on our dark history. But there are countries that haven't done it."

Benimana stressed the importance of architecture with a mission, particularly in Africa where the population is increasing fast, and with it, the demands on the urban environment. This year, Benimana is driving the African Design Centre, a two-year fellowship program based in Kigali, where fellows execute real projects.

"With the African Design Centre, we'll nurture a creative leadership that will take on the massive challenges that the continent is facing."

Latest Articles

Video: Rwanda's Christian Benimana Moved to China and Learned Mandarin to Be an Architect

When he was younger, there wasn't a single architecture school in his country. Now, as part of MASS Design Group, Christian Benimana shares how architecture can heal and inspire Africa.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Harry and Meghan Announce That They Are Expecting Their First Child

    Harry Meghan Announce That They Expecting Their First Child

    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex while arriving in Australia for their first official overseas tour have released some special news. They are having a baby. The... Read more

    The 15 October 2018 by   Solarisastro
    BODY, MIND, SPIRIT, SPIRITUALITY
  • Concert Review: Some Roads Lead to Rome

    Concert Review: Some Roads Lead Rome

    Sir John Eliot Gardiner brings old-style Berlioz to Carnegie Hall. by Paul J. Pelkonen Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Photo courtesy Carnegie Hall. Historically... Read more

    The 15 October 2018 by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA
  • Cali Mavericks DoubleWood Whiskey Review

    Cali Mavericks DoubleWood Whiskey Review

    A craft bourbon made in California, through contract distillation, and finished in toasted French Oak; Cali Mavericks DoubleWood Whiskey is the latest thing to... Read more

    The 15 October 2018 by   Josh Peters
    DRINK
  • The Definitive Guide to Surviving Shopping at DMart

    It is a known fact that shopping at a DMart store can be a life-threatening experience. Which is why a guide like this is absolutely essential. Read more

    The 15 October 2018 by   Tejas Nair
  • Halloweens from Our Youth & Hellish Costumes

    Halloweens from Youth Hellish Costumes

    Let’s start with the obvious here. You could not breathe in these masks back in the 70s. You felt like you were being suffocated or worse. Read more

    The 15 October 2018 by   Midlifemargaritas
    LIFESTYLE
  • North American P-51D Mustang

    North American P-51D Mustang

    @ Camarillo Municipal Airport, CA August 2017 This P-51 Mustang “Bunny”, from the Palm Springs Air Museum, taxies by for takeoff at the Wings Over Camarillo... Read more

    The 15 October 2018 by   Htam
    PHOTOGRAPHY, SOCIETY
  • ✔638. Westleigh Park

    ✔638. Westleigh Park

    Havant Waterlooville 0-1 GatesheadNational League Saturday 13th October 2018 Havant is a town in the south east corner of Hampshire, situated in between... Read more

    The 15 October 2018 by   Smidrophenia
    SOCCER, SPORTS

Magazines