Archive for luglio 2010

luglio 28, 2010



luglio 20, 2010

One of the two torchi walls was covered with a plaster made of earth, sand and water.

An adobe brick wall was completed, ready to host a structure to experiment different type of roof.

Experimenting with fibers to create details for the shoes.

The first painted sample of imigongo.

Great kite’s day

luglio 19, 2010


luglio 17, 2010

Design at KIST

luglio 16, 2010

The design students, this morning, went to KIST for an exchange experience with the students of the design departmen.

We presented our works and we set together to speak about the projects they are developing in this trimester.

16_07_2010 Logbook

luglio 16, 2010

The last part of the roof was completed with the plastic sheet.

Therefore, devided in smaller groups, we continued to work developing differents research themes.


The group working with imigongo experimented the first mixture and shapes.

After visiting the workshop of  an artisan in Kigali, Luca is working with different wet fibers.

Regarding the textile work, Maya is developing the research in two differet directions:

connecting vegetable fibers with textile and elaborating the traditional imigongo patterns.

Still working with textile, Eugenia started to work on a pair of shoes with the teacher of the sewing class.

MIKADO (Shangai)

luglio 15, 2010

Benedetta Tagliabue

luglio 15, 2010

Atelier Rwanda: vegetable fibres and design tradition and innovation.

luglio 15, 2010

Atelier Rwanda: vegetable fibres and design tradition and innovation.

by Gaddo Morpurgo

“One of Rwanda’s strategies to harmonise social development consists in strengthening its cultural resources, building and integrating foreign technologies with the local know-how.

The challenge lies in dealing with the radical changes globalisation has imposed on certain crucial and fundamental parts of Rwanda’s culture. Throughout the process to further these unavoidable transformations in various areas, there is the imperative need to implement strategies to safeguard the values of cultural tradition and national identity.

Our values can be kept alive as long as they keep on playing a major role in our economy and in our society.

The integration of foreign elements into our way of life requires three strategies:

– A better understanding of our culture and traditions

– A structure and a system for the careful selection of foreign contributions in the search for solutions to our problems

– The creativity of our ancestors, foreign influence and renewal of Rwanda’s current society.

An expression of this creativity is potentially given by the introduction of new craftsmanship techniques. Rwanda’s crafts have undergone many changes because of the massive introduction of European and Asian products. Colonial power and missionaries introduced new ideas in the light of which professions that failed to adapt to the new reality simply disappeared.

( … )

Colonialists, missionaries and Asian merchants introduced new ideas, techniques and professions, and money was introduced as the tool for trading.

These new ideas, under the name of modernity, changed the overall asset of Rwanda’s social and economic life and the Country’s relation with its neighbours. As a consequence, professions that failed to adapt to these multicultural changes started a slow and irreversible decline into oblivion.

This is especially the case for those professions where raw materials were replaced by imported materials or by higher quality finished products.

The manufacturing of certain traditional items began to disappear as Rwanda’s society began to adapt to the new lifestyle, driven by globalisation”.

(Cp. Kanimba Misago Célestin, Directeur de  l’Institut des Musées Nationaux du Rwanda)

The ‘Atelier Rwanda’ project focuses on those resources that are still capable of “representing those professions where raw materials were replaced by imported materials or by higher quality finished products” after being channelled towards new project ideas.

We believe, as stated by Kanimba Misago Célestin, one of the greatest experts of Rwanda’s material culture, that “values can be kept alive as long as they keep on playing a major role in our economy and in our society”.

The ‘Tradition and innovation in vegetable fibre design’ exhibition displays the first results of this programme that was set up in 2008 after being prompted by the Soroptimist International organisation, and that in recent years saw the involvement of partners such as the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, the IUAV University of Venice, and the Carlo Buziol Foundation which, in addition to allocating finances, also supervised and coordinated work activities.

Through its first participation in the ‘Biennale di Venezia’, the Republic of Rwanda is showing some of paths that we can follow if we view design as a means to solve together problems that are no longer mine or yours, but ours.

But above all it proves how the project’s culture must redefine its means with respect to the potential of local productive systems. In our case there are various potential relations between craftsmanship and design.

After being set up with the main objective of carrying out a survey to innovate the use of local materials and exploit traditional work methods, over the last two years Atelier Rwanda has started to become more of a research centre for the innovation of design in Africa.

In September of 2009 the research centre, which has headquarters in the ‘Centre d’accueil et de formation San Marco’ of the Kigali Soroptimist in Kanombe, hosted the first workshop on the use of traditional Rwandese work methods to make jewellery and on the use of banana leaves and bark in the production of construction components. Among the results of this initial experience we can point out the innovative MUSA® panel entirely made out of banana wood that allows for the thermal and acoustical damping and isolation of buildings using organic materials, and the first use of coffee wood in the production of light carpentry and other elements.

In the wake of the results provided by the first workshop, which saw the involvement of 26 international students and 10 teachers and assistants from the two Universities, in May 2010 we set up the second workshop, a facility interested in testing new construction models based on vegetable fibres that will be active up to September.

38 international students have been selected to join as many Rwandan students in this workshop, and 6 scholarships have been allocated to help them to develop and exploit their technical skills through direct confrontation with Rwanda’s reality.

The most important result of this ongoing experience is the creation of the ‘Rwanda Pavilion’, a sort of test platform where students and researchers of the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology and of the IUAV University of Venice can build sections of a building on a 1:1 scale and test the behaviour of vegetable fibres in a specific climate.

Born out of scientific cooperation between KIST and IUAV, this ‘test lab’ represents an innovative example of organised research and training activities concerning the application of natural fibres in the construction sector.

Atelier Rwanda has planned a third workshop for June/July 2011 that will focus on the innovation and diversification of hand crafted products and will mainly address the craftsmen of cooperatives working in the various regions of Rwanda in order to gain the skills that are needed to make new products that will be introduced to the market.

In terms of research, the ‘Rwanda Pavilion’ will be further developed and implemented, consolidating its role as research and test facility for vegetable materials and local techniques.

All of the above will be put on display on occasion of Rwanda’s first exhibit in the ‘Biennale di Venezia’, but there is another way for us to look at, and assess, this experience.

In some two years approximately one hundred people, counting both European and Rwandan students and teachers, had the occasion to meet and work together in Rwanda.

They started to know each other, test each other, understand each other…

Rwanda at the Biennale di Venezia

luglio 13, 2010


The Republic of Rwanda has decided to participate to 12th International Exhibition of Architecture at the Biennale of Venic­e, Italy.

This is because Rwanda is convinced that the serious environmental problems common to most world populations need urgent attention. African Countries should strongly confront environmental problems and lay strategies to ensure that measures taken are sustainable.

The Republic of Rwanda has already taken a leading role, and made a grand step towards a sustainable environment by prohibiting the use of plastic bags in the Country.

Today, It has a particular attention to promoting research on the use of natural material in the building industry.

The Republic of Rwanda presents to 12th International Exhibition of Architecture at the Biennale of Venice, the Exhibition “Tradition and innovation in vegetable fibres’ design” in which the first result of Atelier Rwanda‘s activities are showed.

The Atelier Rwanda is a Centre of research on various design innovations in Africa.

This research was started in 2009 though a collaboration between Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), University Iuav of Venice (IUAV), Soroptimist International and Claudio Buziol Foundation of Venice.

This is a Centre of research, which promotes innovation by using local material and yet advancing the techniques of traditional craftsmanship to come up with longlasting products. This will enhance use of traditional materials and give them more value. San Marco Research Centre is located at Kanombe, Kigali.

The Exhibition will attract attention on the vast domain of architecture and design, with a specific pointer on the use of locally available materials around us.

The first outcome of this research is creating a building system with 80% natural materials such as banana leaves, bamboo and coffee wood.

Secondly, the research has facilitated the traditional rwandan technic to produce jewels that show the potentiality of our traditional culture when confronted the larger dimension of design and technology

As the commissaire and curator of the exhibition prof. Gaddo Morpurgo writes in this catalogue: “ With this first participation to the Biennale of Venice the Republic of Rwanda shows some of the ways we can cover if we intend the design like an instrument for solving the problems that at last are not more mine our yours, but ours.”

Hon. Joseph Habineza

Minister of Sport and Culture