Intelligent building envelopes


Project: Centre of Excellence, Kigali, Rwanda, Africa

Architects: Creative Group 

The proposed Centre of Excellence (COE) in envisioned to be created in Rwanda, Africa for those interested in pursuing excellence in farm mechanisation research, industrial interaction and farmer participatory on-farm research and development, as well as research extension. In addition to developmental work, the COE shall act as a nodal body for research, human resource development and entrepreneurship promotion in the emerging and very promising farm mechanisation technology area. For this project, the mission was to develop a design that would fulfil the needs of an industrial campus, while keeping in mind the factor of sustainability and affordability.

Rwanda is proposed to be a hub of competitive and reliable technology development and transfer for mechanised agriculture in East Africa. Thus, this project is important for the overall development and the country’s economic progress. Designed to give a promo status to the company, this particular corporate office building has a dynamic form with an intelligent building envelope to adhere to the Green Building concept.

Conceptual Planning

The complex was planned keeping in mind the existing site features and the natural terrain. The built zones were planned along the contours to minimise the use of earth cutting methods. Keeping the solar orientation in mind, the complex buildings were planned on the north–east–south– west axis, thus blocking the harsh west light and enabling diffused light in the facility. Topography of the site played a major role in planning the storm water channels and the open spaces in the complex, thus introducing various active and passive means of design in the building. Since the building is planned along the terrain on the slope, the storm water collection is easier, which forms a waterbody at the base of the site. The vehicular movement and traffic circulation were planned in a manner that enabled road access for all blocks, to meet the requirement for frequent material pick-up and drop.

The buildings include agro–processing units, administrative blocks, workshops and labs. All the blocks are designed with a central courtyard for congregation and to bring the project close to nature. We believe in the philosophy of a design as more than just a built mass, hence, a central green spine was introduced to bring in nature in an otherwise mega energy usage structure. Green landscaped spaces with amphitheatre and public interaction areas enable in making the design unconventional for an industrial project.

The buildings of the complex are planned in a way that the summer sun is minimised to the maximum extent. Louvers are used on the front façade to cut the southwest sun. Double façade is used to reduce the thermal heat gain by using local materials such as bamboo, thus also, responding to the natural and cultural context. The use of indoor breakout spaces helps in breaking the monotony of the structure and provide the users with a sense of openness, while promoting interaction. The inclined roof is proposed to be set with solar roof panels to curb down thermal gain and generate electricity.

Sustainability strategies used:

  •  Optimisation of building form and placement with respect to the solar movement, wind orientation and site features.
  • Responsive façade with diffused lighting through bamboo screens.

• Shaded corridors and use of local materials like bamboo as shading devices, while also promoting local context.

  • Green roofs for thermal insulation.
  • Water reservoir for rainwater harvesting and surface run-off collection.
  • Segregation of waste – solid waste management and disposal in a proper manner.
  • Implementations of traditional knowledge systems such as mutual shading and courtyard planning – This enables a better circulation system throughout the complex, while also adding landscaped areas in an industrial surrounding. The close placement of buildings enables shading and creates a wind stack effect, thus also making the micro climate cooler.
  • Active strategies like water conservation and use of effective lighting fixtures.
  • Use of locally available materials enables cost effectiveness and sustainability.
  • Use of alternate sources of energy – installation of solar panels on the roof to generate electricity and reduce energy consumption.

Evidently, this project takes an unconventional but sustainable approach towards the design of an industrial building.


Client: TechnoFab Engineering Limited/Rwanda Agricultural Board

Design team: Prof. Charanjit S Shah (Founding Principal), Ar. Gurpreet S Shah (Principal Architect)

Built-up area: 5,000 sq m

Cost of the project: INR 30 crores

Year of completion: Ongoing