Ruhehe Primary School
Can a school's design serve as an example for improving education?
Ruhehe Primary School is a public school that serves 1,120 students from pre-primary to grade six, with the help of 20 teachers and maintenance staff. Through partnership with MSquared Foundation and the District of Musanze, the inaugural cohort of African Design Centre (ADC) fellows led the reconstruction of Ruhehe as the cornerstone of their design-build curriculum. The redesign of Ruhehe offers the first proof of concept for design interventions piloted by MASS Design Group at Mubuga Primary School in 2015. Together, Mubuga and Ruhehe present new standards in school design throughout Rwanda’s Musanze District.
To MASS and the ADC fellows, Ruhehe offers opportunities far beyond the construction of a building. This project aims to prove that design interventions across a school campus can improve learner outcomes, increase satisfaction among students and teachers, and increase student retention rates. Through an extensive Immersion process, ADC fellows were able to produce a community-centered design concept that emphasizes capacity building at all project stages. By partnering with the local community and designing contextually, these factors not only enhance learning and development of the whole child, but also continue to support the scalability and replicability of the Mubuga model as a standard of school design across the country. But first and foremost, the Ruhehe Primary School is a human-centered project, aiming to improve the quality of life and dignity of the children and staff who use it daily.
The new Ruhehe campus is laid out as a necklace, with the classrooms as pendants along the chain. These pendants are surrounded by a perimeter wall that protects students and reduces distraction from their studies. The school campus is adjacent to a heavily visited sector office, a position that presents both opportunities and challenges to integrating school activity with community happenings. The fellows decided to demolish two out of the four existing classrooms and build an additional five classrooms, library, and headmaster’s office. The two remaining classrooms have been renovated for optimal use. Each design element of Ruhehe was product of the 10 fellows’ collective decision-making and aligns with the project mission. The redesign of Ruhehe strategically fits within a budget relative to that of school reconstruction in the area, so the process, materials, and staffing can be scaled across the country. Ruhehe’s completion marks the culmination of the ADC fellowship, and sets a precedent for educational infrastructure in Rwanda.
Location: Ruhehe, Musanze District, Rwanda
Program: Primary School
Services: Community Engagement, Architectural Design, Landscape Design, Furniture Design, Construction Administration, On-site Training