Architecture Projects Using Local Materials and Workforce

MASS is a design group that focuses on using building projects to empower the local community by employing a mainly local workforce and utilizing local materials.

By providing training opportunities for local workers and artisans, and by using local materials sourced onsite whenever possible, MASS Design Group makes the construction of a building itself a tool for progress in developing countries. MASS involves locals in all phases of the process, making sure buildings, such as hospitals and schools, are designed for the community, and ensuring that the local community knows how to physically maintain the buildings themselves.

As an example, to create the Ilima Primary School in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MASS recruited two African architecture students to manage the project, employed local carpenters to train village residents how to work with wood, used local resources for 95% of the building’s structure, and employed exclusively local workers for the construction of the building. Since 2015, 12 buildings have been constructed using MASS’ methods.

Relevance of solution

The building sector is responsible for up to 30% of global carbon emissions and consumes up to 40% of all energy.1 By using locally sourced, environmentally friendly materials, as well as training locals in maintenance, the environmental impact can be signifi cantly reduced.

Triple Bottom Line


Using local labor and local materials reduces the carbon footprint of the buildings constructed.


MASS empowers communities by providing local workers with knowledge and new skills.


By leveraging the skills obtained, locals can secure better-paying jobs and better provide for their families.


  1. UNEP. “Buildings and Climate Change.” (2009.)