From the outset the concept was to create a structure that would emerge from the Rwandan soil. It is earthbound, but simultaneously culminating into an upwards surge towards the sky. It symbolizes a country with a past in entrenched in conflict, that rose from turmoil and finally celebrating peace, prosperity and growth.
After passing the existing buildings, the first experience along the pilgrimage once reaching the apex and periphery of the forest clearing, is a linear wall emerging from the indigenous grass clearing. This wall leads one, pass the bell tower towards a protruding roof, which defines an outdoor paris or threshold. The extended roofline symbolizes the canopy of an African tree, often used for religious gatherings.
The linear earth wall, functioning as primary guiding element, leads one into the atrium, which is semi- outdoors, and defined by the hovering roof as well is a curved wall, covered with African slate.
The entrance to the nave is deliberately placed on the opposite side of the plan, as it creates a sense of anticipation, very similar in moving along a passage in the Zimbabwe ruins. In other words, the route is tweaked in the sense that one switches over from the first linear approach to a second parallel route. From here one will have an infinite view into the forest beyond. The nave is flanked by finned walls on the east, which is metaphoric of traditional arcades. These fins contain large lattice doors that can open towards the side, thus providing the potential to increase capacity, improving cross ventilation and connecting the space with nature. On the west side of the nave, a series of lattice doors can open completely, connecting the nave to a sacred courtyard, filled with a grid of trees. This space will be a visual experience with a tranquil and spiritual quality, acting as a filter for the late afternoon sun.
The altar is placed right in the centre of the culmination of the nave, the ambo and the outdoor seating terraces. If the lattice doors on the west side of the nave are open, one is visually connected to the outside courtyard with a grid of trees. As with the above, the nave and altar space can also flow out to the eastern side and terraced seating. The embankment on the east serves as additional seating space to be used for larger gatherings.
The presbytery and sacristy are located behind the altar and enclosed by a sculpted curved wall that creates a funnel shaped space, enhancing the visual connection with the forest.
In summary the Chapel of Rukumo, will be a place for the people. It will be the culmination of a pilgrimage to the hill and it will be tranquil and spiritual. It will serve as a reminder of the country’s history steeped in conflict and war but simultaneously stir emotions of recent reconciliation and peace.
Date : 2018