“If we think about architecture as simply beautiful objects,” says Michael Murphy, founding partner of Mass Design Group, “then we fail to talk about the process which creates those objects. It’s labor—the construction of craft—that produces beauty.”
Consider Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, an example of MASS Design’s belief in first-rate healthcare facilities for the third world and investing in the local economy as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty. For Butaro’s wall construction, local Rwandans became the masons: hand-chipping volcanic rock and beautifully shaping each piece so they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Built 100 percent by the community, Butaro’s walls are as much symbolic as they are functional. They testify to a community that labored together, using newly learned skills, to build a hospital for themselves.
Patients benefit from their labors, too, in the design of the hospital. Placing beds in the center, making each bed a window seat creates a positive patient experience. An innovative airflow design minimizes the spread of airborne diseases.
Butaro Hospital is functional, innovative, and beautiful. But, to the community, its best design was the process by which it was created.
Herman Miller is excited about working together with MASS. Learn more here.