It’s not just an opportunity to make a beautiful building, but it’s an opportunity to impact key areas of human life. —Commode Dushimimana, MASS Architect, Rwanda
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.
What makes me happy is people in this neighborhood when we meet, they tell me I have done something beautiful here. —Hakizimana Emmanuel, Master Mason, Rwanda
MASS Design Group has always believed our work should be guided by human empathy—the firm began with five graduate students volunteering their time to design a hospital to challenge expectations for what the bare minimum should provide. At the onset of every project, our designers spend weeks orienting themselves to the people: their needs, their values, their hopes, and in turn finding the motivation and perspectives that enable good design. We also invest ample time in organization-wide reflection through office retreats, weekly meetings, and thinking exercises, learning from the contexts we work in and each other. This practice helps ground our vision and goals in our values of love and empathy.
Beauty is important per say. Not superficial beauty, but beauty that provides you with dignity. Beauty that what you call in French, transcender; pulls out of you the best thing you have, for yourself and for giving to the world. --Dr. Agnes Binagwaho Minister of Health, Rwanda
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.