Sunzu Yacu Community Center, Rwanda

 Andrew  Goodwin, AIA

The Sunzu Yacu Community Center is a sustainable multi-purpose center for a small village in the Northern Province of Rwanda.

The Sunzu Yacu Community Center was a dream conceived by Dan and Frances Klinck, two Canadians who fell in love with a village on the picturesque mountaintop between Lakes Burera and Ruhondo in the Northern Province of Rwanda. Dan worked in the energy sector in Rwanda, and Frances taught English to students and teachers at the local primary school. After creating life-long friendships with many of the villagers, they felt compelled to do more and invited friends and supporters alongside to create a space for education and play.

In 2013, the Klinck's engaged with young architect Andrew Goodwin to design what would become a multi-purpose educational center for an under served population of women and children in the Northern Province of Rwanda. Goodwin's company's burgeoning humanitarian design studio, known as the RED Studio, took on the project and quickly designed a locally influenced, yet sustainable community building.

Built on a terrace overlooking the lakes of the district, the community center was oriented to receive ample daylight and ventilation throughout the year. This helped to reduce the need for any daytime lighting or fans. The shed roofs collect rainwater in cisterns, and are reused on the property for potable and non-potable needs alike. This community center was also design to leverage the knowledge and skills of local tradesman in order to infuse the struggling economy with monies and jobs. Therefore, the building was designed using local techniques of masonry and concrete framed construction, as well as hand crafted doors, windows, casework, furniture and ceilings.

Ultimately, the interiors boast welcoming and comfortable day lit areas for the children and women of the local villages to learn and meet. With an average of 25 readers per day, this center has already had an amazing effect on the community providing opportunities to learn how to read and write at no other cost but time. Now being used as a pilot building for Dan Klinck's business, Afritech Energy, the Sunzu Yacu Community Center is the first of many new projects that will empower local villages through clean energy investment and innovation.

Image credits


Andrew Goodwin, AIA