Earlier this year, VMDO partnered with the German sports and social aid nonprofit organization Anstoss Zur Hoffnung or “Kickoff to Hope,” who has developed a branch mission called Kickoff to Hope Burundi. Kickoff to Hope has implemented programs and completed several projects in Africa including a new soccer ball manufacturing facility in Bujumbura and school improvements in Nairobi, Kenya.
VMDO’s Athletics + Community Studio Leaders, Joe Celentano and Randy Livermon, traveled to Burundi in March 2017 for the official launch of Start Kicking, the first soccer ball manufacturing company in the country. They also attended the official gifting ceremony for the land known as the Garden of Hope and met with local and national leadership. Joe and Randy were also able to tour the countryside and get a firsthand look at the native design traditions, construction methods, and natural materials used in Burundi, including handmade brick and intricately woven straw.
"Over the last few years, we have all fallen in love with Burundi. The people are kind and their hearts are filled with joy. We are grateful to everyone that enabled this wonderful day. We are excited to see how the lives of people will be changed on this land in years to come,” shared Kick Off to Hope’s International Director Mark Geissbauer.
With the support of VMDO’s design work, Kickoff to Hope and local Burundi engineers and builders will construct a sports complex comprised of a 1,000-seat sports hall for basketball and volleyball and a 6 v. 6 soccer pitch centered inside a 200-meter track. The complex will serve as a community center for the people of Burundi to enjoy a range of sports as well as a place for educational programming focused on sports medicine, nutrition, training, strength and conditioning, and fitness. The site will maintain a community garden that is currently in use and provide play areas for children with a perimeter walking path.
The design uses local materials and construction methods including a cast-in-place concrete structure, brick infill, stone paving, walls and drainage, eucalyptus and palm screening, and a steel roof structure. Two design schemes were reviewed – the Porch and the Plaza – and the “Porch Scheme” was selected to move forward. The “Porch Scheme” uses the natural topography of the site to create stone seating risers for both the sports hall and the track and field. The hovering roof of the sports hall enhances natural ventilation and gestures towards the lake to the west. A shared concourse provides access to both facilities and doubles as a public space on non-competition days.
This scheme addresses parking in a creative way by using the site topography to allow parking to be located at the court level and be covered by the seating rake and concourse promenade. This creates a center spine for the main pedestrian entry from the south with splendid views on both sides to the sports hall and the track. By removing the surface parking, it allows the whole south edge to be given to the vital community aspects of both the garden and the children’s play area.
With great excitement, anticipation, and the hearts of the Burundi people as the central focus, VMDO is honored to be part of this amazing, transformational project.