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African Leadership University (ALU) Campus

Architecture as a social connector

Mass Design Group

African Leadership University (ALU) Campus
By Francesco Pagliari -

With its rapidly growing demographic, the African continent is in sore need of innovative top-ranking university training in a range of vital sectors - from economics, technology and IT through to the social sciences - not only to sustain social, cultural and economic well-being but also to ensure basic human dignity for all.

Founded on the island of Mauritius in 2013, the African Leadership University (ALU) adopts a holistic approach to the complex issues the continent faces, proposing innovative, experimental educational and training solutions designed to foster the acquisition of knowledge, managerial and decision-making capabilities by an increasingly numerous student pool. In-depth Africa-specific research conducted by ALU has revealed the need to innovate teaching practices if the continent is to prepare a future managerial class able to tackle the many issues facing the different countries of Africa and stem the brain drain of African students who, after training in European or American universities, often decide not to return. But offering high-level specialist training at home against a backdrop of scant resources means employing innovative educational methods: student knowledge sharing within an egalitarian framework of self- and peer-learning that will benefit all participants, allowing them to achieve their educational and professional goals.

Architecture is very much part of this experimental process, called on to provide flexible spaces compatible with the new educational methods.

The non-residential university complex recently built in a technology-geared district of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is ALU’s second project following on from the Mauritius residential campus, which became operational in 2015. The project brief called for an urban complex whose place-based design would blend seamlessly with its sloping Kigali site, a common feature in a country known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills”. The...

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