Capturing the romance between East African elemental aesthetics and inventive off-the grid sustainability, the master plan for this 40 acre rural mountainous Burundian site manifests the villagers’ love for their land. Yet Kigutu is also a community where conversation creates social fabric. These conversations, that are typically informal, in groups and outdoors, are the impetus for the design of a series of bucolic communal places and spaces that encourage dialogue.
The strategy of creating a campus of multiple communal gardens surrounded by institutional and residential buildings evolved as an organic outgrowth of how the villagers of Kigutu chose to live. The new buildings will not merely be located on the land; rather they will be sustainably embedded in the land. Cutting skewed lines in the terrain running parallel with the contours of the earth, the structures are sited to capture magnificent mountain views, draw on the natural insulation of the earth, optimize natural ventilation, and produce energy from waste. Buildings surround gardens to create a free-form convivial campus, collect rainwater and provide positive drainage for the sloped site. In the tradition of the African craft of weaving, the design of Kigutu embroiders aesthetics and landscape to create a model for the sustainable future of both the community and the country.