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Context and collaboration: KWIECO Shelter House by Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects

Jenni reuter KWIECO index

The practice firmly believes that architects have a duty to become role models

Shortlisted for the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture 2016

In Tanzania, an increasing number of women are subject to domestic violence and are failed by a legal system that provides little protection against such acts.

‘The trio are an inspiring example of architects working with underprivileged communities’

Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects, working alongside Ukumbi – an NGO set up by the practice in 2007 – has created the Kilimanjaro Women Information Exchange and Consultancy Organization (KWIECO) which provides both legal aid and housing for victims of domestic abuse.

KWIECO Shelter House Moshi Tanzania  by Hollmen Reuter Sandman Architects

KWIECO Shelter House Moshi Tanzania by Hollmen Reuter Sandman Architects

Source: Juha Ilonen

Groundfloorplan jpg

Groundfloorplan jpg

Ground floor plan

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Section jpg

Section

The practice is comprised of three Finnish architects who completed their first project in 2001: the Women’s Centre in Rufisque, Senegal. They are Saija Hollmén, founder of Salmi & Hollmén Architects, Helena Sandman, founder of Helena Sandman Architects and Jenni Reuter, founder of Jenni Reuter Architects. The trio are an inspiring example of architects working with underprivileged communities while providing humanitarian aid for those who face crucial social and economic issues.

‘Across the practice’s work for Ukumbi, there is a clear emphasis placed on context and collaboration’

The building itself steers away from making any grand artistic statements; instead, it focuses on empowering the community while respecting the local culture and spatial hierarchy. Relying on natural ventilation, it was built using both local materials and local workers. In addition, traditional techniques were employed during both the planning and the construction phases.

KWIECO Shelter House Moshi Tanzania Hollmen Reuter Sandman Architects

KWIECO Shelter House Moshi Tanzania Hollmen Reuter Sandman Architects

Source: Helena Sandman

KWIECO Shelter House Moshi Tanzania  by Hollmen Reuter Sandman Architects3

KWIECO Shelter House Moshi Tanzania by Hollmen Reuter Sandman Architects3

Source: Juha Ilonen

Across the practice’s work for Ukumbi, there is a clear emphasis placed on context and collaboration. As Reuter states, ‘architecture starts and ends with the context. The process can be very different from place to place but architecture is borne from the context’. The practice’s diverse portfolio includes graphic design and art installations in snow and ice, all created with an emphasis on the local condition and material.

‘The building itself steers away from making any grand artistic statements; instead, it focuses on empowering the community while respecting the local culture and spatial hierarchy’

The work of Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects in developing countries does not come without its challenges. Reuter believes it would not have been possible without the creation of Ukumbi. The practice firmly believes that architects have a duty to become role models, a driving force behind projects like KWIECO and the Women’s Centre in Senegal. Across their own individual work and lecturing commitments, the three partners are committed to educating and motivating aspiring architects and aim to increase awareness around the need for solutions to issues that many underdeveloped communities battle everyday. 

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