Birambye Lodge

What We Do

Through problem based case learning, we learn about architecture by studying design issues and finding solutions either in textbooks or our imaginations.

  • An architects work is never done
  • Always in progress
  • Completed projects are temporary
  • Redesign is inevitable

Sustainable development should be used as a retrospective term once a project has achieved economic, environmental and social independence. The Birambye Lodge (BL) is designed to be comprised of technologies that provide two components;
1) create social enterprise
2) reduce the environmental impacts of development.

Project Type: Other: Social Enterprise.

The primary concept of the Birambye Lodge is to develop a market for and keep all profits for the local economy. The lodge is designed to provide a market for the goods produced at the L’Esperance Orphanage, e.g. dried mango, papaya and pineapple and hand-made cards, that will provide direct income for food and school supplies as well as provide the tourists an opportunity to interact with the local Mugonero market on Wednesday. Trekking, kayaking, birding and swimming are all activities that are already planned and possible for this area. In addition, the technologies to be employed at the Birambye Lodge to provide off-grid power and sanitation, not only contribute to making this lodge the first LEED-Platinum structure in Africa, but also provide social enterprise for local contractors.

Project Mission/Goals:
3) respond to our growing need for clean water, power, shelter, healthcare, education
4) address humanitarian crises

Project Description:

Birambye has strong connections to southwest Rwanda and developing holistic sustainable tourism by designing the Birambye Lodge (“Birambye” means “Sustainability” in Kinyarwandan) on the western border of Nyungwe National Park in the Nyamasheke District on Lake Kivu has been our primary focus for the past two years. We believe that our connections, in particular to the orphanage and with the Rwandan based NGO GAERG( Groupes des Anciens Etudiants Rescapés du Génocide, which means the Former Genocide Survivors' Students Group) compliment our core competencies in designing and building low-cost and sustainable housing and energy systems in Rwanda.

The proposed next steps and timeline are:

  1. Revise Birambye International/GAERG MoU
  2. Register Birambye International as a Rwandan non-profit in August
  3. GAERG secures the 100 acres of land on Lake Kivu by September, 2010
  4. Begin coordinated fundraising efforts and advertising through RDB/ORTPN
  5. Develop the site for camping with RDB as an official stop on the Congo-Nile trail by December, 2010
  6. Birambye workshop for windpower at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology in Dec/Jan, 2011
  7. Start construction of Birambye Lodge in 2011

Our partners and responsibilites:

GAERG: GAERG will be the owner and lead for political/cultural and business connections for the Birambye Lodge. As such, the Business Plan_InitialDraft and Birambye Lodge_Profit Forecast and Eco-Lodge Costs (Years 1 through 3) will be GAERG documents and need to be completed by GAERG.

Birambye International: Our sole mission is to assist in the development of sustainable enterprises, such as the Birambye Lodge, and not be owners/managers. As such, the business plan for Birambye International is solely as consultants in sustainable development. We intend to register as a non-profit in Rwanda with assistance from GAERG. We are all currently based in the Denver/Boulder area of Colorado.

L'Esperance Orphanage: The director and orphans serve as the primary driving force for the concept of the Birambye Lodge. The interactions with the sustainable initiatives already underway at L'Esperance are critical for incorporating into the design of the Lodge.


Karim Gisagara - UNWTO/RDB and lead for development of Congo-Nile Trail Ted Martens - Sustainable Travel International - Boulder Colorado Based Rwanda Development Board

Project Details:
Project Location: Mugonero, West Province, Rwanda
Date(s): January 2009 to January 2012
Project Phase: Passed feasibility and now securing the 100 acres of land
Client: The L'Esperance Orphanage and the community around Mugonero.
User Client: The owner/manager will be Groupes des Anciens Etudiants Rescapés du Génocide (GAERG, which means the Former Genocide Survivors' Students Group)
Description and Number of Beneficiaries/Users: 130 orphans at L'Esperance, staff hired from Mugonero, managers hired from GAERG, goods and services purchased in the area as a result of sustainable tourism.
Major Funding: None yet secured.
Concept/Lead Architect(s)/Designer(s): Mark Reiner, Kat Pecoraro, Mark Pitterle, Victor Monroy
Project Architect(s)/Designer(s): Mark Reiner, Kat Pecoraro, Mark Pitterle, Victor Monroy
Structural Engineers: Mark Reiner
Electrical/Mechanical Engineers: Mark Pitterle
Contractor/Manufacturer: Local contractors
Additional Consultants: Rwanda Development Board
Total Cost/Cost per Unit: $200,000
Area (if applicable): 100 acres (40 hectares)

Location: Mugonero, Rwanda