Light Earth Designs
Location: Gahini, Lake Muhazi, Rwanda
Project Team: Lead: Peter Rich
Interior Décor: Light Earth Designs
Project Year: 2013
Photographer: Light Earth Architecture
As I shake Peter Rich's hand and ask him whether he is now retired, he smirks and stares back almost semi insulted "I'm too young. I am just starting." And looking at his impeccable sustainable portfolio of architecture you can see why he is just starting. The Anglican Church just North of Kigali in Rwanda perhaps speaks to that metamorphosis form one technological advancement to the next while always making sure it retains the feel of the dome architecture he is famous for.
This is the Lake Muhazi Anglican Church, a red brick structure that bestows honor upon both the worshipers and their God. This is ultimately a spiritual exploration of space which in its every essence, both inside and out, explores the socio-cultural and economical aspects of Rwanda Architectural landscape and is unassuming in its quest for faith and place.
Here we see light being diffused from clerestory windows and forms come together so seamlessly, almost with divine intervention. There is a touch of Kigali here, if not much then the red SSB Bricks seem to explore that. You can see the spirit of the Mapungubwe building in this, if only in character, if only in lessons learnt and Peter Rich, in his architectural youth, certainly does well to remind us that the wisdom of yesterdays is gold in present day.
From the Architects
An exciting design proposal for a new Anglican church for a congregation of 2000 people near Lake Muhazi, one hours drive north of Kigali. The plan is octagonal, loosely based on a cross, with parabolic concrete ribs spanning 36 meters between the eight vertices. Simple parabolic tiled arches span up to 16 meters between the concrete arches and overlap and interlock, creating a form that unfolds to the sky. The vaults were to be constructed out of terracotta tiles, locally produced using coffee husks from the nearby coffee plantations.
The client had reservations regarding the potential risks that such a new technology posed. Thus the project will not proceed as a vaulted solution.
We remain committed to demonstating that this technology is indeed possible in a semi rural context and can compete and even out perform conventional construction technologies in terms of cost and performance. In addition, we strongly believe that vaulting can offer a far more sustainable and beautiful solution. Our hope is that the Rwandan Cricket stadium will be the first demonstration of vaulting in this regard.
A sustainable society builds innovation out of its own heritage and traditions, local evolved solutions and practices, etc. It does not throw away everything to replace it with an external model just because other countries are doing this.
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