atelier rzlbd sinks a circular void and 100 chapels for church in rwanda
 

atelier rzlbd sinks a circular void and 100 chapels for church in rwanda

atelier rzlbd, based in toronto, started their design process for the 100 chapels in rukomo, nyagatare district in rwanda by asking itself ‘what is the essence of a church? the basis for the project was shaped by this fundamental question, even before producing architectural drawings. the designers defined the physicality of worship as ‘a place of reflection and meditation; an atmosphere of simplicity and eternity; a presence of the present and the ancient; a journey from darkness to light; a departure from earth to sky; an architecture of subtraction versus addition.

atelier-rzlbd-100-chapels-church-rwanda-07-24-2019-designboom

 

 

giving a chapel a physical place, religion becomes more than praying and worshipping and provides a sense of belonging to people. the architects explain how ‘religious architecture is so restricted by conventions and iconographies, empty of their initial spiritual intentions, used only to promote a superficial religious image, when its function is more like that of a community center.’

atelier-rzlbd-100-chapels-church-rwanda-07-24-2019-designboom

 

 

the design intention was not to add complex geometries or vain decorations, but to enhance an already existing presence, giving the impression that the church had physically always been there. the proposed church is placed deep in excavated earth, so that from the outside it is not visible, and from the inside only the sky can be seen. in the sunken ground, one hundred ‘cells’ serve as a platform for one person to sit, kneel, stand, and pray. they are arranged in a circle around the center that is open to the sky.

atelier-rzlbd-100-chapels-church-rwanda-07-24-2019-designboom

 

 

each cell has a triangular opening towards the center, at which the cross, made as a reflection pool, is laid horizontally facing the sky. this ethereal element transforms the entire space in the church’s center and above, into the symbol of god. arranged in a circle, representing equality and divinity, every cell is in an equal distance from the center and orients everything towards itself symbolizing the center of the universe.

atelier-rzlbd-100-chapels-church-rwanda-07-24-2019-designboom

 

 

all the administrative parts are located in the start of the long, linear entrance. each semi-subterranean chamber is a small chapel, encouraging the act of praying. the natural light from the center enters each of these small rooms differently, flowing continuously over the curved corners and the high vaults, becoming an intimate dialogue between people of all beliefs and god.

atelier-rzlbd-100-chapels-church-rwanda-07-24-2019-designboom

atelier-rzlbd-100-chapels-church-rwanda-07-24-2019-designboom

 

 

project info:

 

client: poor clare sisters (clarian nuns)

program: chapel

location: rukomo, nyagatare district, rwanda

structure: concrete

size: 4000 m2

design: 2019 (competition entry)

architects: atelier rzlbd / reza aliabadi

project team: reza aliabadi, james park

 

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

edited by: cristina gomez | designboom

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
LOG IN
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

×
keep up with our daily and weekly stories
491,173 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample