The Komera Leadership Center, located in the rural eastern province of Rwanda, acts as a much-needed community and education hub for local residents.  

Strategically set on the main road, across the village football pitch, the facility, designed by BE_Design, provides health, education and mentorship programmes for young women and a place for family development initiatives and community gatherings.  

Flexible space for a range of activities 

The heart of the building features a flexible space that functions as a gathering hall or a series of classrooms to accommodate the wide variety of activities and programmes the community wanted for the leadership centre.  

Large, hinged translucent panels transform the space, creating three classrooms when closed.  

When the panels are opened 90 degrees, they create a large meeting hall to accommodate the community. When fully opened to 270 degrees, the space can accommodate larger events such as performances and ceremonies.  

Large adjacent storage spaces enable these transforming spatial functions. 

Local inspiration 

The roof forms, woven eucalyptus screens and brick patterns are inspired by traditional “Imigongo” art, originating from the region. It carries an association with the Rwandan word “Komera”, meaning “to stand strong and to have courage”.   

Connecting the administration, health and counselling, classroom and gathering, kitchen and dining spaces, the large roof creates an abundance of covered exterior spaces for breakout classes and informal meetings. The large eucalyptus screens provide shade and a sense of enclosure and privacy for the exterior spaces. 

Local involvement 

In collaboration with Rwanda Village Enterprises (RVE), the centre was constructed with mostly locally sourced materials. BE_Design employed a local workforce that maintained an average of 40% female representation, and provided on-site skilled labour training, good income and savings accounts, PPE and safety equipment and marketable construction skills. The firm also worked closely with the community, and their contributions were vital from conception to completion of their community centre.

Issue: Designing a flexible space, with local artistic inspiration. 
Solution: Drawing from traditional “Imigongo” art, large panels create different spaces within the community centre, while woven screens provide shade and privacy outside. 

Acknowledgement and thanks go to www.v2com-newswire.com for the information in this article. 

For more information, visit www.bruceengeldesign.com or email bruce@buroengel.com. 

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