Devoted to urban planning

Born in Kigali, Rwanda, this MIT student works to improve and provide affordable housing designs in Africa.
Photo: Jake Belcher
Photo: Jake Belcher

After internships and work opportunities at prominent architecture and social good firms like MASS Design Group, Rwanda and UrbanAfrica, MIT Master’s student Billy Ndengeyingoma believes that well-designed housing can empower people and improve their lives. Born in Kigali, Rwanda, Ndengeyingoma realised that as an urban planner he is in a position to offer solutions to some of Africa’s housing problems.

“Housing has a huge value in securing people's right to a city and making sure that they feel dignified by living where they live and that their housing has a clear connection to their already established social networks, and also to the broader city itself,” Ndengeyingoma told MIT news.

Initially, an engineering student, Ndengeyingoma’s academic journey led him to the housing crisis in Africa. Inspired by MASS Design group, an architecture practice focussed on human-centred design, Ndengeyingoma completed his undergrad degree and decided to view his own city through the lens of urban planning. He developed a photo series that looked at Nyamirambo, a neighbourhood of small stores that are brightly painted to attract customers.

“It's just a rainbow of colours and it's really lively,” says Ndengeyingoma. “I realised that I hadn't made enough critical observations of my own city and my own living environment,”

“And I thought a great medium to do that and start to explore my own city was through photography.”

Since the exhibition at MIT, Ndengeyingoma has continued to work toward solutions for urban problems.