"De la terre au ciel" a Chapel in Rwanda
- by Axel Burkhard
How to connect the earth with the sky. How to generate a form that brings man and god together.
Rwanda has a history with its highs and lows. It is first of all defined through its dreamlike Hills, drawing a unique landscape, melting geometry and nature. The hills are ornamented with human lines, emphasizing the character of the nature, printing an identity on the earth. The local culture is defined through the use of simple geometrical motifs, for art, clothes, or architecture.
The ground is rich in many ways, hiding mineral treasures, keeping flesh and bones of ancestors, feeding the people, providing material for the buildings.
For all of these reasons, characteristic to the country, the needed Chapel aims to engage with the earth, with the purpose to connect it to the sky, physically and spiritually.
“De la terre au ciel” seeks to answer the needs of the “Clarisses community”: simplicity, interiority, sobriety, spirituality, without fearing to bring a certain monumentality, emphasizing the character’s strength of an isolated situation. An immaculate nature with a divine function welcomes a pure form.
The project is drawing its print into the ground, revealing the interior of the nature to support the quest for one’s spirituality. The symmetry of the chosen architecture aims to engage with a divine understanding, introducing calm and order. It is developed from a square to a circle, trying to optimise a morphological transition from the earth to the sky. Its concentric character refers to the sun, symbol of Rwanda’s flag, while generating sequences leading to the spirituality. It is an expression of the opened community of the country as well.
The square form acts as a first sequence among the path leading to the sacral heart, the chapel. This gesture also finds its language from the layered hills characterising Rwanda’s landscape. Afterwards, on the way down, one will pass the octagonal concrete shell, which leads to a transition space opened to the sky. A few steps further and the visitor reaches the circular chapel, anchored in the stone. These two main spaces hold earth and sky together. They offer a spiritual journey through a monumental architecture expressing many aspects of the rich local identity.
The project is built in concrete and bricks, (partly) with the dug earth as mineral source, giving a slightly brown / red shade to the building. The central structure shines like a sun and holds the building and concept together. The morphology of the intervention aims to collect rainwater, which will gather around the chapel and enhance the experience. This brings nature closer and emphasizes the meditative character of the outside area.
“De la terre au ciel” is as an attempt to synthetize the essence of a culture, while answering needs and transporting the identity of a country, a landscape.
architect: Axel Burkhard | client: Young Architects Competitions | status: Competition (2019) | competition: Rwanda Chapel | clasification: finalist | location: Rukomo, Rwanda (-1.378653, 30.249170) | climate: Desert / arid, Hot | material: concrete | environment: Forest | visualizer: Studio | scale: 150 m2 small | types: chapel, religious | views: 2.804
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