The Boston-based nonprofit design firm MASS Design Group hopes to see the number of professional designers in Africa grow. To that end, the firm has unveiled a plan for an architecture and design school in Rwanda called the African Design Center. https://vimeo.com/139968413 Founded in 2010, MASS already has experience in developing areas around the world, including building a number of schools, medical clinics, and houses in sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti. Its latest project, the African Design Center, will also lie in the sub-Saharan area of Kigali, Rwanda, where the firm already has an office. Currently, the firm is raising money for the project with the aim of opening next year. The school will also teach outside of the design discipline with classes available for networking and business development. If a success, MASS will emulate the project in other areas, implementing more schools in the region and hopefully the continent. According to its website, MASS views sub-Saharan Africa as an area that is set for "unprecedented urban growth," and such investment will help develop the economy of the area. More importantly, the project provides "critical new infrastructure such as housing, schools, and clinics." MASS' Africa office also realized that the continent's growth requires creative services to design future hospitals, schools, and housing. Africa contributes less than one percent to the global creative economy, and it's hoped that the school will nurture the young designers who will form the new sub-Saharan Africa. MASS described the project as the "Bauhaus of Africa." MASS isn't the only firm delving into the fertile land of Rwanda. Recently Norman Foster announced a proposal for a drone station to supply emergency medical equipment and act as a form of trade route in the area.
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Who needs roads when you can fly? Norman Foster's latest project aims to support cargo drone routes that could deliver "urgent and precious supplies to remote areas on a massive scale." The scheme has significant potential in some of the barren heartland areas of Africa which are severely lacking in infrastructure, something that has proven a hindrance to the health and socio-economic well being of the region. Utilizing drones in such a way could change all that by connecting stranded communities and bringing valuable resources which are desperately needed. Unlike cars or trains, drones can easily (and cheaply) bypass the need to traverse across mountains, rivers, and lakes. Medical supplies are the main priority for Foster. He has teamed up with Afrotech, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL); and the Norman Foster Foundation. Drones here have the potential to disperse a variety of life-saving packages within a range of over 60 miles. This would work by using two drone networks called the Redline and the Blueline. The Redline would carry smaller packages and would primarily be for emergency medical supplies. The Blueline would be more commercial and would be able to carry "larger payloads such as spare parts, electronics, and e-commerce." A drone port would be a new typology for Foster + Partners, adding to its growing list of aviation-based buildings that includes various airports and "lunar building studies conducted in association with the European Space Agency." The firm aims for the project's design to be very simplistic and able to be assembled by locals. The port could also be a manufacturing site for drones which would potentially give locals greater employment opportunities. To give some scale of the issue Foster wishes to address, currently "just a third of Africans live within two kilometers of an all-season road." With this in mind, Africa's population is set to double by 2050 and so a solution such as this will be necessary to cater for the growing demand of Africa's people. “Africa is a continent where the gap between the population and infrastructural growth is increasing exponentially," Foster said in a statement. "The dearth of terrestrial infrastructure has a direct impact on the ability to deliver life-giving supplies, indeed where something as basic as blood is not always available for timely treatment." With a pilot project set to be built by 2020 in Rwanda, "a country whose physical and social geography poses multiple challenges," the drone service hopes to send supplies to "44% of Rwanda." "Rwanda’s challenging geographical and social landscape makes it an ideal test-bed for the Droneport project," Foster said in a statement. "This project can have massive impact through the century and save lives immediately.”