After genocide destroyed much of Rwanda, including many hospitals, the Boston nonprofit Partners in Health got involved in restoring them, particularly in the countryside. One example, the 110-bed Rwinkwavu Distric Hospital, reopened in 2006. But there was no nearby place for medical professionals to live until Partners in Health returned and, under the auspices of Rwanda’s ministry of health, hired Sharon Davis Design for a facility on an arid hill next to the hospital.
The two buildings, totaling 7,700 square feet, provide bedrooms and bathrooms, communal living and dining areas, and a laundry for 16 people. Locally sourced materials were crucial to maintaining the tight budget while supporting the community. For instance, a cooperative of women learned to shape bricks in a way that yields high seismic performance—so they could be used for all masonry walls, including the inside of the bedrooms and bathrooms. Sharon Davis also interviewed doctors and nurses, who told her that their greatest wish was to be able to commune with coworkers. The result is housing that reads residential rather than institutional.