Rwanda chapel - The cathedral of light

architecture, competitions


Rukomo, Rwanda




international competition


1215 m2


At the top of the mountain, there is a place to wake up the inner peace. A people's chapel to remind us that we are all the same. Its narrow wall is visible from everywhere, so is the calling of the bell. When you reach the chapel there is more than a wall… it's a view of art!
The parvis of the chapel is the chapel's backyard, it is the reaching and gathering point, the first impression of the light and the surrounding. This place can be used by a larger audience. It is defined by two walls that constrict at the preaching place to limit the view horizon. The independent wall encloses the plaza and to play with the shadow, the light, the nature.
Small arcade openings lead you to the atrium of the chapel. Here, a rain bed welcomes the visitors allowing them to cherish the rainwater, its calming sound, and its purity. The nave is reached through doors made out of transparent wooden interlace. They can be closed when needed, but while open they offer you a ceremonial entry into the chapel… the place to pray, celebrate, cry, and to hope. A circular wall - the symbol of the self, the relationship between man and the whole nature, defines the presbytery, while more is left to the light. Every time the daylight makes the space and the atmosphere different.
Local materials are used everywhere, bringing the atmosphere of the earth in each brick and in each wall layer. They offer an archaic, emotional, and intimate feeling of the place. The main walls are from rammed earth, while the other walls play with light and shadow with the absence of a brick. Simple, but with the power to embody the feeling of nostalgia, serenity, death, solitude, silence, beauty, myth, nature, and religion.