Nyamata School Hall, Rwanda
A hall for reconciliation and peace building
The UK charity Reach for Rwanda is operating a programme which supports fractured communities in Rwanda affected by the genocide in 1994 through a positive reconciliation process of micro business start ups, workshops and testimonies in the community. Founded by Rev Philberth Kalisa in 1996, through is great vision and determination.
SAWA teamed up with Squire and Partners to design a community school hall for the town of Nyamata in southern Rwanda. The school will be built by former perpetrators of the genocide alongside a victim’s family members as part of the reconciliation process. The hall could be used for various gatherings of different sizes and functions, operating as a space for reconciliation and forgiveness but also as a commercial space for wedding hire etc.
We studied the historic building vernacular and the ‘Rwanda King’s Palace’ for their use of local materials such as earth, timber, thatch and plant leaf which inform their designs, and taking inspiration from traditional structures, we developed a design model with an interlocking block mould which could create a variety of curved walls and openings.
The roof is designed to respond to the request for an oculus window to provide high-quality natural ventilation and light. The circular window in elevation sits above the circular wall in the plan, held in place by twelve bow-string trusses arranged like the points on a compass, keeping the window open to the south away from prevailing winds and allowing direct sunlight from the north.