MASS Rwanda

MASS Design Group, Rwanda: Communicating Design Intent


MASS Design Group, Rwanda works to create buildings that heal - physically, intellectually, and psychically. As an architecture firm MASS had met with success but also knew it needed to improve its processes to further extend its impact.

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MASS needed to improve and streamline its ways of communicating design intent to better reach across cultures and areas of technical expertise.


The team collaborated with MASS to establish a project on-boarding process that engages all stakeholders and carries through the life of a construction project.




Research Strategy


The four core values of MASS guided all of the research work conducted during this project:

Hire locally

Source regionally

Train where you can

Invest in dignity





Secondary research

Remote stakeholder interviews

Stakeholder and user surveys

In-person stakeholder and user interviews

Contextual inquiry

Key Insight

Local resources, methods, and labor are often more efficient and effective than high tech solutions.


The team visited one of MASS’s active construction sites to learn more about how drawings were put into action.

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Workers ran up a ramp with wheel barrels of wet concrete, hoping to maintain momentum to make it without needing to stop.

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The team visited one of MASS’s completed projects: Butaro District Hospital.

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Volcanic rock from the surrounding area was used to construct the walls of this hospital.


The team helped with ditch digging as part of their participation in the monthly community work day.

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After the work day, the team sat in on the monthly community meeting.




User workshops

Key Insight

The construction workers felt proud to work with MASS and wanted more engagement with staff at all levels.

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We invited the construction workers to the MASS office for a series of workshops to understand their experience.

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Workshop participants explained what worked and where changes were needed.

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The workshop participants outlined the existing communication process.

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From there we were able to begin digging deeper.


Ideas About How to Improve Communication Across the Whole Process Were Generated

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Key Insight

Making a complete set of construction drawings accessible to team leads at the job site would prevent many mistakes.



Develop & Deliver

Joint user and stakeholder workshops

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The research team, MASS staff, and construction workers collaborated to develop a new process for kicking off projects and keeping them on track at the work progressed. The first step was to have kick-offs at the job site.

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The University of Global Health Equity Has Come to Life, On Time and On Budget

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Let’s talk!