Talent: Meet Nzirorera, the student engineer who develops unique architectural designs

By Jean d’Amour Mugabo
On 17 May 2018 at 10:48

Alexandre Nzirorera, 23, bets he is able to do any building’s architectural design and demonstrate it via walkthrough animation, the work that engineers say it is rare among the local professionals.

Born in Bugesera District and now a second-year student in Civil Engineering Construction Technology at the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC Kigali), Nzirorera says he developed a passion for construction during his childhood and pursued it in secondary school.

With the encouragement of the college for innovation, Nzirorera found his skills insufficient to do anything new in Rwanda’s construction sector. He started online courses with Archystore in Madagascar in April 2017 and later with Harvard University in the United States. He did Lumion software and Twinmotion, the world’s best rendering tools.

Nzirorera, then, opened Golden Construction and Designing Ltd (GCD) in February 2018 and recruited a supporting team of seven including professionals and students in different construction-related fields.

“Something new I have brought into Rwanda’s construction sector is the use of walkthrough animation that Rwandans are currently looking for abroad. No one else is doing this here and if there is any, they are weak because all local big projects should not be going to foreign firms,” said Nzirorera.

“I am able to deliver any building design like Kigali Convention Centre and other world-class buildings wherever they might be in the world. I want to do more courses to improve skills about designing other structures like airports and stadiums. Meanwhile, I am trying to raise funds for redeeming my completion certificate at Harvard University.”

IPRC Kigali’s Vice-Principal for Academics and Training, Eng. Jean Claude Benimana, told IGIHE last week that the college decided to support Nzirorera with offices and a good computer because they found his work as important.

“We found his activities very important and decided to support him as we usually do for other students who show good ideas for implementation. We even want him to share skills with other students. We haven’t done yet a thorough evaluation of his work especially because that software he uses is not what we teach here,” said Eng. Benimana.

First project delivered

In addition to some residential buildings, Nzirorera’s GCD Company has delivered a project of a world-class tennis stadium which is set to be the best in the East African region, according to Eng. Valens Habimana, the Secretary General of Rwanda Tennis Federation (RTF).

Located in IPRC Kigali in Kicukiro District, the tennis stadium project is owned by RTF and Workforce Development Authority (WDA).

“Nzirorera designed four tennis pitches in our first phase of tennis stadium. The second phase he also designed is about other facilities at the stadium such as lodges to host people who will be attending international competitions in Kigali. I found a talent in him especially because I am an engineer. He first showed me what he does and I showed him the project we had and I was surprised to see how quickly he understood it. That way of walkthrough animation he uses to demonstrate the design is really important,” said Eng. Habimana.

He said the first phase of the stadium has been completed at a tune of Rwf90 million and the federation is raising the funds for the second phase.

“When we presented the project in the presence of Rwandan ministers and officials from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) a fortnight ago, they admired it and promised to support it. I presented the project and even foreigners were amazed to hear that a Rwandan can design such a project and put it in a self-explanatory way of walkthrough animation. It looked new to many,” noted Eng. Habimana.

“We have other Rwandans who can design that project but they don’t have those good ways of demonstration which doesn’t require the presenter to explain a lot. They do design but in our other ways.”

Other ways of demonstrating architectural designs include 3D and physical models which show a building in drawings while the objective of walkthrough animation is to give the object the physical properties as it would exist in the real world.

Nzirorera says the biggest challenge he is facing is about convincing people on what he can do because many say that they are designs he just copies from South Africa or other developed countries while others don’t believe that someone as young as him can deliver a great project.

“Others still question the skills of someone who acquired courses online. They think no one can be as competent as the one who physically attends the campus. I am trying to convince people by all means including developing designs that nobody is going to pay,” he says.

Nzirorera plans to keep expanding skills, offer training to Rwandans and make up a big team of competitive professionals who can design master plans of cities in Rwanda and abroad.

Nzirorera supervises the tennis pitches construction works to ensure they match with the design he made
(From left to right) Minister of State for TVET at MINEDUC, Olivier Rwamukwaya, Minister of Sports and Culture, Juienne Uwacu (second right) and ITF President, David Haggerty (third) take part in Umuganda at the Tennis stadium under construction in IPRC Kigali
Minister of Sports and Culture, Juienne Uwacu (second right) and ITF President, David Haggerty (third) take part in Umuganda at the Tennis stadium under construction in IPRC Kigali last month
The design of a building that will be hosting players at the Kigali Tennis Stadium under construction in IPRC Kigali. Design by Nzirorera
The design of Kigali Tennis Stadium whose first phase comprising four pitches has been completed