As many in the developed world have been fortunate enough to go to school and get the education needed to succeed in the future, education on the African continent continues to suffer from low-quality studies. Education has always been a source for people to expand their knowledge, skills and ultimately open up and provide them with better life opportunities. African Architect, Christian Benimana focuses on improving education in Africa in hopes of not letting anyone else go through the struggles he went through when he was pursuing his dreams of becoming an architect.
Benimana has always dreamed of becoming an architect. But in 2002, due to a lack in schools specializing in design in his home country, Rwanda, he enrolled himself at Tongji University’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning in Shanghai, China to pursue a bachelor’s of science in architecture degree. In 2010, he joined the Global Health Corps Design Fellow at MASS Design Group, a non-profit architecture firm, where he is currently a Managing Director and principal. He became involved with development initiatives, operational and administrative leadership and design/building projects.
In his TED talk, he discusses “the next generation of African architects and designers”, a video streamed over one million times.
With an interest in creatively using technologies and materials for sustainable designs, he became the co-founder of the African Design Centre, where he led the implementation of a field-based apprenticeship in the ‘Bauhaus of Africa’. The mission of this centre was to influence fellow leaders to create something that was more sustainable and equitable for the world - relating to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on Quality Education, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Decent Work and Economic Growth and Sustainable Cities and Communities.
There has been an increasing need for designers to produce high-quality infrastructure due to the exponential population growth and urbanization which is going to occur in the near decades. According to The World Bank, Africa is anticipated to see 1.2 billion living in urbanized populations by the year 2050. Benimana’s design studies have allowed him to see “a shift in the perception of what Africa can achieve [and how] we need to offer a chance for Africans to learn how design can improve people’s lives”.
This education initiative would build a network of architects to improve the state of Africa’s cities in terms of ensuring that it is more equitable and sustainable, bringing communities together.
The three African Design Centres are being built over the next ten years throughout Africa in strategic areas. In these facilities, there are going to be education and training programs for the new architects. In an interview with CNN, Iain Low, a Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, noted that this would become an opportunity of a lifetime for many and could become a valuable resource for architectural discourse and education in Africa.
To learn more about the African Design Centre's curriculum, visit the website.