Born in Rwanda, Benimana was forced to seek education in China because at the time, there were no operating architecture schools in Rwanda. His experiences studying in Shanghai exposed him to the rapid, often unchecked growth of Asian cities – their positives and their negatives. According to Benimana, Africa’s current infrastructure is inadequate for its predicted growth, and the continent urgently needs designers familiar with its cultural practices. There is also an opportunity to learn from the successes and failures of development in the East and the West, taking the best of all lessons and using them to guide the growth of African cities. To ensure this, Benimana seeks to foster a new brand of architecture that is “strictly African” by educating young designers in sustainable and efficient building practices that honor and include African culture.
Located in Kigali, Rwanda, the African Design Center aims to increase the number of African designers creating sustainable work and includes curriculum which was developed to foster relationships between students, communities, builders and craftspeople. The program is divided into three components: workshops and lectures on technical skills, on-site design build projects, and a research group dedicated to exploring new materials and building techniques. Benimana hopes to replicate the ADC at different scales across Africa to foster a new generation of African architects by changing the way we educate designers. By integrating the education of young designers and the execution of ongoing projects, we reduce the barriers to entry to the profession, while making sure that what’s being taught is what’s needed
We were fortunate to have Christian on our podcast Social Design Insights, where he joined hosts Eric Cesal and Karen Kubey to discuss how changing educational paradigms must be the key for the future development of African cities.
And don’t forget to check out Christian’s recommendations for further study!