The exhibition AFRITECT—curated by MASS’s Co-Executive Director Christian Benimana—opened May 20 at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. In Christian’s words, “AFRITECT is a framework of thinking, of critiquing, of interrogating current realities and imagining future possibilities. I hope visitors leave the exhibition with more questions and curiosity, and a desire to imagine a different future.”

AFRITECT posits that the process of architecture requires shared vision and demands collective action. MASS’s experience on the African continent has taught us that inspiration lives, not inside us, but between us—that great architecture reveals the collective fingerprints of many people of different backgrounds and expertise. We know that building is more verb than noun—that the process is inseparable from the product. 

Inspired by Ikinyarwanda, a language spoken in Rwanda, the exhibition highlights language, ideas, and cultural values as a way into defining shared purpose. Language is not simply a tool for communication but shapes the way we see ourselves in society and acts as a tool for creation. In Ikinyarwanda, there is a phrase “Ijambo rirarema,” which can be translated to mean: “words create, words build, words give hope.” With that spirit, we have created the word AFRITECT, one which has no history, no definition, to invite participation into a new way of thinking about architecture.

Visitors to the exhibition enter a portal-like space defined by six vertical screens mounted on a series of interlocking panels. One central screen features team members from the MASS Africa studio, exploring the role of language in expanding our understanding of the concept of AFRITECT. The additional five screens reflect themes of individual and collective action in both natural and urban environments.

We are grateful to Lesley Lokko – whose vision and stewardship made the The Laboratory of the Future possible; and to our fellow practitioners whose practices elevate what Africa has to model for our global community.

Find us in The Laboratory of the Future’s Force Majeure (Giardini, Central Pavilion) in Venice. The Biennale is open to the public May 20 - November 26, 2023.  

Watch the AFRITECT film trailer.

MASS Design Group Exhibition & Film Credits: 

Films Produced By:
Christian Benimana
Thatcher Bean

Written By:
Christian Benimana
Katie Swenson

Roger Biziyaremye
Joel Muhozi
Gabriel Nyirijuru
Nailla Simbi

Additional Post-Production:
Cristoforo Magliozzi
Antonieta Bocxe
Kelvin Adjei-Akosah 

Additional Writing and Production Support:
Sarah Agatoni
Amber LaCroix 
Hope Blanchette

Exhibition Design By: 
Maggie Jacobstein Stern
Giovanni Bortolotti
Miguel Roldan Signes
Annie Wang
Noella Nibakuze
Alan Ricks

Exhibition Production & Assembly By: 
Sat Q

MASS Design Group would like to thank the following individuals for their contributions in creating the film: 
Arlette Akingeneye
Martine Dushime
Symphorien Gasana
Joe Christa Giraso
Rosemarie Goldrick
Jean Luc Shema Karuyonga
Anton Larsen
Christelle Muhimpundu
Noella Nibakuze
Marie Amelie Ntigulirwa
Shakira Nyiratuza
Kemunto Okindo
Youssouf Renzaho
Jean Paul Sebuhayi Uwase
Jean Paul Uzabakiriho