Can Architecture Contribute to Peace?

MASS Design Group is at the forefront of a growing movement that is redefining architecture to not only encompass beautiful and functional design, but also to empower people, deliver dignity, improve health and well-being, and have the greatest positive impact in the communities they serve. The following photo essay and video will give you a flavor of the work they do and how it impacts the people involved.

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MASS Architect Commode Dushimimana
MASS Design Group

I was born in the African Great Lakes region. This 
is a region that is still torn with war and conflict, so 
the ideals of peace are very important to me. The question to myself and to every other architect is: how can we use architecture to contribute to peace and conflict resolution? I would like to see our masons going to Congo and build these beautiful walls there. I would like to see Congolese carpenters come to Rwanda and teach us about carpentry. If you think about that, then architecture is starting to mend these relationships. Commode Dushimimana MASS Architect

Can architecture contribute to peace? A bold idea, this notion speaks to architecture as a process of inclusive engagement, of shared perspectives, and a common goal of making lives better for the end users of a project. We have seen across our project work in Rwanda, and more recently in Haiti, that these experiences of building can, in fact, be peace-building as well.

In this project, MASS worked with the African Wildlife Foundation in the rural Congolese village of Ilima, building 
a primary school. Due to the remote location, practically all materials were sourced locally and built in collaboration with local masons, a local work force, and the school.

Beyond Sustainability HD

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Andrew Brose MASS Project Manager
MASS Design Group

I would hope that if I go back to Ilima in 10-15 years, I would see the school functioning 
in a way that we had never imagined—that we’d go to the villages nearby, that
 we’d see some of those same curved walls, some more of
 the shingled roofs. —Andrew Brose, MASS Project Manager


Jean Paul Sebuhayi Uwase, MASS Fellow
MASS Design Group

I feel that I have this responsibility to serve society. Our role as architects [is] to help the community live in peace. Jean Paul Sebuhayi Uwase MASS Fellow

Alan Ricks is co-founder of MASS Design Group, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (2013-2019), and Expert In Residence of the Harvard Innovation Lab.