The ethnic groups of Rwanda today still struggle with the legacy of the genocide in 1994. In the search for justice and peaceful co-existence, Espérance seeks to fight the ethnic divide of the Rwandan population through education and social programs, establishing “Football for Peace and Anti-AIDS” in organization uses football as a tool for reconciliation, but also to facilitate life skills training and education for Rwandan youth. The proposed centre is located within the heart of the Kimisagara valley; the most densely populated, disadvantaged area in central Kigali with few opportunities for young people and alarming school dropout rates.
The site, located within a local primary school’s ground (ecole primaire de Kimisgara) is situated adjacent to a re-engineered water course (canal) and seasonal wetland prone to flooding. The design brief is a half sized football pitch and community centre with changing rooms, educational spaces and a multi-functional gathering space. The optimized orientation of the pitch (N/S) along with a desire to define and differentiate play spaces for the existing school, and a desire to activate the pedestrian way along the water course lead to the dynamic plan form of the project. Due to the steep hills, densely developed, rising in every direction from the site is easily seen giving the roof a prominent role as the fifth facade and identity to Esperance's social space in the community. The informal route along the banks of the canal connects the proposed center with existing public facilities and the dense residential district. This route is of further importance to the surrounding community as it allows access to a source of water for washing clothes & bathing, as well as providing public space for informal vending and a training area for moto-taxi drivers.
The primary building functions are contained within a simple block to minimize costs, whilst a generous shading roof with an extended canopy gathers the overlapping activities, defining new communal outdoor spaces demarcating play areas for the school, and activating the edges for both planned events and haptic social encounters. In addition to organizing external functions the roof harnesses all rainwater. Bi-annual wet seasons present the opportunity to a significant amount of water from the roof and from the large collection plane the pitch provides. Once captured, the water from the roof is stored and filtered for drinking. The football pitch water is used for flushing toilets, washing clothes and irrigation. Through this low-tech system we hope to capture 2.6 million litres of water and demonstrate a water security resource that can be easily replicated. The steel shipping containers used to transport the football pitch and its accessories from Europe, have been re-used and designed into the scheme as storage and a water tower which is equipped with solar cells that drive the water pumps. The pitch is lit with solar powered LED lights and will provide a welcome opportunity to play in the cool of the night. This approach is intended to reduce Esperance’s utility fees and provide a level of community resource security. Fenestration has been considered to optimize views to and from the pitch whilst maintaining privacy where needed by placing windows at high level, in turn facilitating the natural cross ventilation of rooms. Deep overhangs to the north and south also assist with the cooling of the interior spaces.
The use of concrete has been minimized to reduce costs, opting for local stone, brick and compressed earth where possible. Interior finishes are modest yet robust. Landscaping elements will focus on gabion seating for viewing games, with ground surfaces using local earth and volcanic stone. Intensive planting of a new grove of indigenous trees, to restore the riparian edge of the water course along with trees around the centre and other planting will provide shade, soil conservation and greenery within an urban district that lacks evidence of natural optimism.
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