Architecture Uplifting Women: Komera Leadership Center by BE_Design

WORDS Cheri Wolf PHOTOS Bruce Engel

BE_Design collabs with Rwanda Village Enterprises to deliver Komera Leadership Center, a local art-inspired health, education and mentorship facility for young women and families.

And it’s not only for women, it’s also mostly by them. BE_Design employed a local workforce with an average of 40% female representation that provided on-site skilled labour training, decent earnings and savings accounts, PPE and safety equipment, as well as marketable construction skills. In general, the contributions of the local community played a vital role in conception to completion of their centre.

komera leadership center

Located in the rural eastern province of Rwanda, the fulcrum of the building is a flexible function space that transforms from gathering hall to a series of classrooms. Large, hinging translucent panels morph, creating three classrooms when closed. Opened to 90 degrees, the panels create a large meeting hall to accommodate the community. At 270 degrees, it can host even larger events such as performances and ceremonies.

The large roof connects the administration, health-counselling, classroom-gathering and kitchen-dining spaces to make for volumes of covered exterior spaces that functions as break-out classes and informal meeting spots.

Roofing in the form of woven eucalyptus screens, as well as brick patterns on walls, emanate traditional “Imigongo” art originating from the region. They carry an association with the Rwandan word “Komera”, meaning “to stand strong, and to have courage.”

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