Gahinga Batwa Village

This settlement for eighteen families was built for and in collaboration with a Gahinga-based group of Batwa, a marginalised people who have lived in extreme poverty and destitution since their eviction from the forest. The Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust donated 10 acres of land for this purpose, which has now become the new home for over 100 people. Volcanoes Safaris and guests of their nearby Mount Gahinga Lodge donated all of the materials used in the construction. As part of its pro-bono programme, Studio FH Architects provided the designs and supervision services for free.

The Layout Of The Village

Gahinga Batwa Village / Localworks,© Will Boase Photography | Craig Howes

There are eighteen small houses in the village, each measuring 20 square meters. The floor plans differ slightly, but they are all based on a model house built by the future users themselves out of branches and grass. Every house has a covered veranda for cooking, a small common room, and teeny-tiny bedrooms. The houses are built on rubble stone foundations made from stones found on the property. The walls are made of eucalyptus poles with a bamboo grid, and they are finished with earth plaster. Roofs are made of metal sheets with a layer of papyrus on top.


The layout of the village was not drawn; rather, the placement of individual houses was done ‘on the fly’ by the builders themselves. They were encouraged to respond to trees, rocks, and other features; to avoid verandas facing the strong winds coming from the volcanoes; and to keep the houses tightly spaced as wind protection and to maximise the space available for farming. This has resulted in an intriguing, random pattern that, with time and the help of trees, will create comfortable public spaces and niches.

The New Community Centre

Gahinga Batwa Village / Localworks,© Will Boase Photography | Craig Howes

Two small buildings housing latrines are built into the slopes of a ravine on one side of the village. On the former site of this group, lack of proper sanitation was a major issue, and it was viewed as critical to achieving a dignified and healthy environment. The new community centre is located near the main entrance at the bottom of the site. This dome-shaped structure, which measures approximately 100 square metres, is a multi-purpose space that can be used for assemblies, dance performances, adult education, and a variety of other purposes.


Written By Ankit Lad | Subscribe To Our Telegram Channel To Get Latest Updates And Don’t Forget To Follow Our Social Media Handles Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Twitter. To Get the Latest Updates From Arco Unico

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