GAC suggested the inhabitants of Masoro adopt EarthBag, a low-cost building technology previously adopted to construct bunkers and adapted for civil purposes by Johnny Anderton of Eternally Solar, a South African agency. EarthBags are polypropylene bags that are filled with soil, stacked one on top of the other to build walls and subsequently made stable. This means that concrete, a high-cost and imported material, is only used for the foundations and door and window lintels. It is somewhat ironic to have employed polypropylene as a component in sustainable construction because, as a waste product of oil production, it will be around for a long time and it is also virtually indestructible when protected from the sun’s rays.
Yutaka Sho and the students from KIST taught the people of Masoro to build a house in three months using EarthBags. They also provided some design input so that the new houses are suited to the regional lifestyles and weather conditions. The house plan includes a porch with a sloping roof, meaning that, during the rainy season, the residents are able to do chores traditionally executed outdoors such as cooking, washing clothes and drying beans and manioc under cover.
The Masoro Village Project, Masoro Sector,
Rulindo District, Rwanda
Architectural design: GA Collaborative
Design team: Yutaka Sho (principal designer and construction manager, GAC); James Setzler (designer and construction manager, GAC); Michael Beaman (designer and graphics, GAC); Zaneta Hong (designer and graphics, GAC); Killian Doherty (KD|AP, consultant); Rwandan architecture student partners from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) – Theophile Uwayezu, Doreen Ingabire, Rene Isabane, Patrice Ndababonye
Structural consultant: Johnny Anderton, Eternally Solar,
Construction supervision: GA Collaborative with Rwandan architecture students Riaan Hough, EarthKaya, South Africa
Solar lamps: Great Lakes Energy, Rwanda
Landscape design: GA Collaborative
Compacted earth floor: Earthenable, USA
Client: People of Masoro, Association Dushyigikirane
Built area: 86 m² (gross)
Cost: 7,865 Euros
Design phase: November 2011 – June 2013
Construction phase: June 2013 – September 2013