Snøhetta has partnered with Zimbaqua, the world’s first mine empowering women through sustainable production practices, to create a new community-focused Center near Karoi, Zimbabwe. This partnership brings together Snøhetta’s design teams with the women who work to harvest aquamarine from the earth so that this thriving ecological and economic activity can continue to grow in the years ahead. Inspired by the traditional arts from the region and by the curving dry stone walls of the Great Zimbabwe palace, the Zimbaqua Center will create a vibrant social heart in the region where miners, their families, and visitors can flourish.
At the Zimbaqua Center, miners and visitors will have access to childcare facilities, a school, a pediatric clinic, a job training center, and fabrication spaces where gem polishing and other work can be performed. Organized around a collection of courtyards that flow into one another, the spaces of the Center are designed to promote community and gathering.
Built of bamboo, dry stone, and plaster, the curving walls of Zimbaqua Center offer places to rest, converse, and reflect for the men and women who work here. The welcoming forms of the various buildings, as well as the campus-like configuration of facilities, will anchor the mining community in practices of making, education, health, and enrichment. With plazas, an amphitheater, and courtyard spaces distributed through the campus, the Center will allow the miners to live and work in a way that remains rooted in their local cultures.
Sustainable design and low-impact materials permeate the Center’s design, allowing the buildings that take shape to reflect the ecological goals of the Zimbaqua operations. By using hand-fabricated structural building components and masonry walls relying on local construction methods, the Center will allow the residents to make the place their own.
With conceptual design completed, the Zimbaqua and Snøhetta teams will now begin fundraising for the construction of the project, with the ultimate goal of starting construction on the Center as quickly as possible.