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Design Capitalism

Architecture completed by volunteers, donated professional time and non-profit foreign companies are not substitutes for creating formal, local, architecture firms in developing countries. Nor the ideal solution as it often lacks control on budget and isn’t built with familiarity of local design considerations.

Social entrepreneurship, or the use of private-sector development to alleviate poverty and blight, is practiced in other professions but has missed architecture. In order to establish a social business (a for-profit business with a focus on solving social-societal issues through their business’s capabilities), in architecture constraints unique to the developing world such as local material availability, limited electrical availability and independent water and sewage systems must become non-negotiable base constraints in the design process.

Using these non-negotiables as well as other reasonable techniques for construction within the site context, my thesis, Design Capitalism, explores how architecture can be pushed to innovate with local technologies and output a product that is socially and environmentally appropriate for the Rwandan people. The project output will be evaluated in respect to traditional construction methods as well as projects produced through pro-bono or non-profit donations.

During the course of my thesis year and in preparation for research, I visited Rwanda. During my visit I explored the capital city, Kigali, visited several marketplaces traveled through northern Rwanda (where my final site was chosen) and spend time in the office of MASS Design Group. MASS Design Group helped my research efforts tremendously by providing me with several government documents outlining the 2020 Vision, Umudugudu plans (villagerization) and other critical governmental mandates for building professionals. Special thanks to Sarah Mohland for being my tour guide.

In the summer and fall, I took a class through the UNL College of Business in Entrepreneurship and Venture Management which was critical to the realistic formation of my business plan.

Many thanks to Mark Hoistad, my thesis mentor, for connecting me with resources and questioning my tactics to strengthen my project.

A full copy of my thesis book can be found at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/archthesis/139/


Conceptual Work, International Design




Rhinoceros, Grasshopper, EcoTect, 3Ds Max, Adobe Creative Suite, Google Sketch Up, AutoCAD,


Local Material Use, Passive Solar Design, Natural Ventilation, Rain Water Collection, and Limited Excavation