The film training center in Kampala aims to empower a new generation of East African filmmakers, enabling them to see and narrate African experiences for a global audience. Maisha – meaning life in Kiswahili – is a non-profit organization dedicated to further the as-of-yet unrecognized East African film industry. Grounded in this mission, the building is designed as a series of open classrooms in a natural setting to foster discussion, learning, and contemplation. The building’s reduced material palette, consisting almost entirely of bricks produced from high-quality local clay, establishes an appropriate cinematic framework for a range of spatial sequences – an architecture with cinematic properties.
The jury found the project an impressive gesture of cultural empowerment that is also contextual, well positioned within the landscape and aesthetically inspiring. The program of a film lab was commended for its aspirational objective, namely, to encourage a next generation of East African filmmakers engaged in promoting the moving image as a regional art form in its own right. Though the stepped building and its pictorial series of views and spaces appeared convincing, the jury argued that the proposed brick technology might need to be partially reconsidered in view of more sustainable alternatives, which would be more compatible with the project’s primary objectives. This said, the design brilliantly foregrounds possible forms of interaction between the art of filmmaking and the art of building.