Project: Chapel
Location: Rukomo, Rwanda
Total Area: 750 sq.m
Building Area: 50 sq.m
Year: 2019
Status: Competition 

God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.”

– Romans 9:22-23

Our proposal for the Rwanda Chapel combines a monument to the slain with a strong visual presence that speaks of hope for the future. This sacred space emerges from the landscape and has stunning and soothing views of Rukomo. Forest trees surround the structure and the vivid colours of nature are reflected in the material of both roof ‘vessel’ and incurved ceiling of the interior to create a sense of harmony with nature and instill a sense of mercy and peace for worshipers.

The Bible says: ‘Man is a vessel of God’s love…. if we love one another, God abides in us.’   The roof of the Rwanda Chapel is also a vessel where rainy season water can collect and so reflect the sky in all its God given glory: it also creates a sanctuary and water bowl for the birds to drink; and for the dry season the vessel painted in a bluish color, creating an attractive sense of infinity seen from a distance.

We have used local yellow clay and bricks for the flooring and sacristy walls. We have also incorporated the Italian-born Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi’s iconic chairs made in wood to give a unique character to the interior. The Altar and the Ambo are made from the same wood and all these are beautifully reflected in the stainless steel ceiling with a crystallized texture. The supporting columns are in black painted steel. A stainless steel Cross hangs in the air as a simple reminder of sacrifice and forgiveness and the rain that pours from the vessel creates a curtain as a visual metaphor for God’s love poured into the world.

A long pathway cut into the hills   guides the pilgrim to the Chapel. Trees surround the way path, creating a sense of calmness and peace as preparation for reaching the sacred space so that the pilgrim arrives ready to both remember the past but also find hope for the future.