On Friday, November 4, Sharon Davis Design was awarded 2nd place among all categories of Future Projects at the World Architectural Festival; in their subcategory, Future Projects: Education, they placed first. The New York City design firm competed against over 70 shortlisted projects to achieve this international distinction for their Women’s Opportunity Center in Kayonza, Rwanda. Women for Women International, a Washington, DC based non-profit which seeks to empower female survivors of war and genocide commissioned the firm to build an educational campus in rural Rwanda in late 2008. Construction on the two-acre site began this summer.
Sharon Davis, principle, and project manager, Bruce Engel, explained how the Opportunity Center would be powered by onsite biogas, eschewing the traditional Rwandan fuel source of gathered firewood, which has lead to rampant deforestation in the country. The presentation demonstrated how a unique roof design would be employed for rainwater catchment. They further explained how the Opportunity Center was composed of several different smaller buildings, so that it resembled a traditional Rwandan village, a layout that would feel familiar and safe to the women and genocide survivors being educated on site. To generate a sustainable building material, they refined the brick making process at a local brick manufacturing co-op and taught graduates from Women for Women International’s empowerment programs the craft of brickmaking.
The prestigious panel of judges, which included Michael Sorkin, Jo Noero, Professor Kongjian Yu, and Tim Macfarlane, praised the Opportunity Center’s focus on sustainability, female empowerment and using design to spur positive change. A publication issued by the World Architectural Fair summarized the judges’ reaction: “The project’s design revives a lost Rwandan housing tradition, featuring social spaces from intimate classrooms to a farmer’s market and guest lodging. The innovative program also includes a demonstration area, helping local women produce and market their own goods, and in doing so help fuel the local economy.” The Women’s Opportunity Center is scheduled for completion in 2012 and will serve up to 300 women at a time.
Sharon Davis Design
Sharon Davis Design is a New York City-based design firm that emphasizes collaboration and democracy of ideas among its diverse and innovative staff. We concentrate on sustainable and green design and gravitate to projects that promote positive change that can be achieved through design. In the past, Sharon Davis Design has explored affordable housing options for the New York City metro area, completed design work for a multi-million dollar townhouse that will be completely “off the grid” and submitted an entry to the Gowanus Canal Lowline, a project to rehabilitate and increase public use of the area around the canal. Current members of the design team include: Sharon Davis (principal), Bruce Engel, Sam Keller, Dong-Ping Wong, Jeff Wandersman, Damen Hamilton, Ashley Gange, Tyler Survant, JC Calhoun and August Hales.
Location: Kayonza, Rwanda
Architect: Sharon Davis Design
Official name of the project: Women’s Opportunity Center
Sharon Davis earned her Masters of Architecture from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture where she received the Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Prize. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Trinity College and has an M.B.A. in Finance from New York University. Sharon has previous experience in finance as a portfolio manager, and she has served on the Board of Directors for organizations in the fields of education, social issues, and the environment. Sharon has worked on architectural projects ranging in scope from residential interiors to commercial ground-up construction. She is particularly interested in sustainable design and urban renewal. She has applied her LEED AP Certification and passion for sustainable design and social change to projects ranging from commercial ground-up construction to international institutional development including, most recently, a school for women in Rwanda.
Client: Women for Women International
Principal-in-Charge: Sharon Davis
Project Manager: Bruce Engel
Project Team: Sam Keller, Molly Cronin, Ashley Gange, Dong-Ping Wong, Jeff Wandersman, Laura Cheung, Damen Hamilton
Structural engineer: Arun Rimal, OSD Engineering,
Paul LaRoque, Buro Happold, John Ochsendorf, MIT
Eric Rothstein and Ian Lipsky, Energy Design Dynamics
Budget: 1,000,000 $
Project end date: Construction scheduled for completion in 2011
Special thanks to v2com.biz