Common River


Common River is a US-based NGO implementing a community development program in the heart of coffee growing region in Ethiopia.  Nestled in the Great Rift Valley, 300 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, it is rich with resources, diligent workers, creative thinkers…ripe with possibility. Common River’s mission is to empower the community to become balanced, productive and self-sustaining for others to witness and replicate.


Laraarchitecture was assigned the task of translating the organization’s mission statement into a land use plan for the 10-acre site that would include a school for vulnerable children, community medical clinic, sanitation and river restoration projects, and a volunteer campus.


Lara’s visit to Common River is a pivotal moment in her personal story and she remains deeply involved as funding is secured and the project continues to be implemented in phases.


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"choose your corner, pick away at it carefully, intensely and to the best of your ability and that way you might change the world." ­— Ray Eames

A sense of place and purpose are defined in this development plan created on site and being utilized as a road map and a fundraising tool for organization.

The vernacular Sidamo Hut is studied and reinvented with the addition of bright color and multi-level construction.

An on-the-ground laboratory for design for the other 90%.

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laraarchitecture contact information: 510.577.1484  /  / 11 Moraga Way, Studio 3 / Orinda CA, 94563