Second Place -Public
Architect:Felix Holland – Studio FH Architects Ltd.
Project:Gahinga Batwa Centre (Gahinga, Uganda)
This small Batwa community located close to one of our lodge projects near Mgahinga National Park was our first pro-bono project client. The Batwa are some of the oldest indigenous communities in South Western Uganda and one of the last pygmy populations in the Virunga Mountain range. They are also unfortunate victims of the conservation work done to protect the famous Mountain Gorillas; for which they were evicted from their land and forest livelihood.
This dome-shaped structure, measuring about 100 sqm, is a multi-purpose space that can be used for assemblies, dance performances, adult education and many other uses. Its design inspiration was the traditional forest dwelling of the Batwa which is a light-weight dome made of bent branches covered by grass. The building is made of eucalyptus poles painted with recycled engine oil; galvanised metal sheets; papyrus roof cover; translucent sheets for doors and windows; and grass mats for the ceiling. The building has a total height of 6m and features two garage-like doors that can be swung open to increase the size and flexibility of the space.
The Batwa community undertook the construction of the building themselves. On our side, working without a formal contractor forced us to be innovative in the communication techniques for this building thus a step-by-step ‘IKEA-style’ building instruction replaced traditional drawings.
Through this structure we hope to have contributed towards restoring the dignity of this marginalised group and, like in all our pro-bono projects, to have created appropriate, truly user-sensitive design.