In a different networks of social relation you can create a different material culture. – Gui Bonsiepe

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Atèlier Rwanda, a laboratory for research and projects of innovative design in Africa

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The project was focused on education by creating knowledge networks between Europe and Africa. I worked in it like project manager in Rwanda of the Atelier Rwanda international workshops. I have trained on traditional techniques innovation during the research workshop on vegetable materials and local traditional techniques. I was been the project manager for the final exhibition: MOBIUS about the first Atelier Rwanda workshop result, for the participation of the Republic of Rwanda to the 12 International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. At the same time I was been co-curator of the publication Rwanda. Tradition and Innovation in Vegetable Fibres Design, printed for La Biennale di Venezia 2010, and the producer of documentary YEGO! by Leandro Lisboa.

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Atelier Rwanda is part of the scientific collaboration program between the University Iuav of Venice and the KIST of Kigali, Rwanda, program that was having local research and formation workshops, with common and exchange activities between students, lecturers and artisans.

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Main goal of Atelier Rwanda workshop was to promote activities related to the use of local materials and techniques.

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Both Design and Architecture were involved in phases of experimentation during the workshops that took place from 2009 till 2010. A research and formation program with common and exchange activities in order to:

1.Promote efficiency and sustainability of activities relate to natural fibres developing innovative products made with local materials.
2.Improve the production possibilities of local craftsman strengthening the role of craftswoman.
3.Promote the development and trade of local products and resources.
4.Promote cultural exchange between Europe and Africa in the field of architecture and design.

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The workshop activities were:

1.Training courses for young craftswoman.
2.Didactic modules on design and self-construction with vegetable fibres.
3.Researches on valorization of vegetable fibres.

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As an end of the collaboration program Rwanda participated for the first time with a pavilion to the 12. International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. The results of the two years work have been display during the big Venetian event at the Claudio Buziol Foundation and at the Magazzini Ligabue of University Iuav of Venice.

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During the exhibition was show  ‘Yego!’, a documentary film directed by Leandro Lisboa. Yego in kinyarwanda language is a positive exclamation and this is the way in which this documentary about Atelier Rwanda is told. Architecture and design are the fields in which the project takes place, where knowledge and respect of local culture represent the basis of the approach. The video also reveals personal experiences and feelings of this small country in central Africa.

The Atelier Rwanda partnership consisted on Iuav University, Kist University, Fondazione Claudio Buziol, Club Soroptimist International and Favero&Milan engineering studio.

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