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Dignifying Design -

Stashed in: Africa

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"IN 2006 a 26-year-old architecture student, Michael Murphy, approached the global health pioneer Paul Farmer after a lecture at Harvard. Mr. Murphy asked which architects Dr. Farmer had worked with to build the clinics, housing, schools and even the roads he had described in his talk. An aspiring social entrepreneur, Mr. Murphy was hoping to put his design degree to use by apprenticing with the humanitarian architects aiding Dr. Farmer’s work. But it turns out, those architects didn’t exist.

“I drew the last clinic on a napkin,” Dr. Farmer told Mr. Murphy.

Soon after, Mr. Murphy flew to Rwanda, where he and a few other students, including Alan Ricks and Marika Shioiri-Clark, became Dr. Farmer’s architects. Mr. Murphy lived in the country for over a year while the Butaro Hospital, which laborers built with local materials, was designed. Now, a site that was once a military outpost is home to a 150-bed, 60,000-square-foot health care center that served 21,000 people in its first year and currently employs 270, most of them locals in an area with chronic unemployment.

The Butaro Hospital is a breathtaking building with intricate lava rock walls made of stones cut by Rwandan masons, and it is full of brightly colored accent walls and breezeways bathed in light and air. Deep-green flora blossom everywhere. For the 340,000 people who live in this region of Northern Rwanda, the project marks a literal reclamation: an area that was once a site of genocidal violence is now a center for state-of-the-art medical care. Healing happens there. An unmistakable grace permeates the place."

So can this model be replicated?

Or was this a one-time development?

I think it can be replicated. Cost of labor and materials in other countries is so much cheaper than here in the US, that you could probably get 1 dollar in return for every 5 or 10 cents invested/donated in projects like this, comparably.

I love this idea of reclaiming bad areas and making them good. Cities can be gardens too.

That's great. That's how the world gets better.

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