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Active Social Architecture

A Rwanda-based practice, Active Social Architecture (ASA) focuses on social architecture, affordable solutions, and the use of local materials.

Active Social Architecture designs inspiring, comfortable, and functional spaces tailored to the users’ needs, expectations, and overall budget. The ensuing process is a constant interaction of stakeholders’ participation, architectural practice, and research. In each project, design is approached in a holistic manner and utilized to add value to community-based projects; architecture is understood as a creative means of problem-solving, providing cost-effective solutions that are attractive, affordable, and improve upon the existing environment. Each project is rooted in the findings of research on similar communities, current local architecture, precedents, and context.

ASA takes care to explore locally sourced materials and the most appropriate environmental approach. Once the best materials and methods have been selected, the practice utilizes craftsmanship and innovative compositions to ensure that each project delivers a positive experience to users. 

With over 150 projects, ASA is a master in the design of educational and health facilities where each building’s structure itself is viewed as an “added tool” contributing to a child’s growth and stimulation or facilitating the patients’ healing. 

In 2019 the current partners founded ASAreacts, a social enterprise that develops non-profit projects in contexts of very limited means. One such project is Ubugingo (or “well-being” in Kinyarwanda), developed to help the Government of Rwanda to achieve the SDG 2050 by tackling the smallest chain of the health system, the Health Post (HP). 

The Health Post is the most diffused health facility in the territory. It provides first aid, sanitation, and health assistance to the local communities. The current number of HPs in the Country is only 500. In order to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals, the Government of Rwanda will need to provide 1600 Health Posts by 2050.​ 

ASA designed three different sizes of HPs: Small, Medium, and Large, with a modular system that allows the developer to choose the most suitable size to implement according to its financial capacity, the social context, the needs of the health services in the area, and the land size. 

Through this kind of project, ASA reacts to the local constraints and the social needs of health, sanitation, and education improvement through projects that work to reverse decades of structural inequality that denied rural Rwandans opportunities more readily available to their urban counterparts.

14 | Combining Ancient Traditions and Contemporary Social Design


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for 2017 is "Sorry" by Comfort Fit. The break music is "Ndombolo" by Siama Matuzungidi from his album "Rivers - from the Congo to the Mississippi."