Rwandan Faculty of Architecture and Environmental Design, Kigali

Project details
Architect: S&AA – Patrick Schweitzer et Associés Architectes & S&AA – Yannick MIARA - EAACON
Contractor: CATIC
Town: Kigali, Rwanda
Client: MINEDUC

Photography by Jules TOULET ©

The architecture practice Patrick Schweitzer & Associés responded to the international call launched by the Government of Rwanda in March 2012 for the construction of the new Faculty of Architecture in the capital city of Kigali.

The school covers an area of 5,600 square metres and has the capacity to accommodate 600 students. It is located in the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology campus in the Nyarugenge district. The works started in early 2017 and were completed by the end of the year.

Photography by Jules TOULET ©

The building is the result of a global site analysis. Its architecture is inspired by the territory in which it is situated and establishes a natural topology with colours and shapes of the region. The four natural elements are represented in the conception of the building: fire: the orange colour, water: the inner garden, air: circulations, and earth: lava rock and rammed earth.

The architects employed prisms for the shape of the structure and broke their volume down to create fault lines and canyons. A central fault line emerges the outdoor living space which opens the building to the valley and city. 

Photography by Edwin SEDA ©

It is fundamental for aspiring architects studying within the building to be inspired by their surroundings and encouraged to use local resources. Consequently, the architects were determined to build a project which is by itself a pedagogic tool and the architecture has been designed to showcase the building process to the students. 

Photography by Jules TOULET ©

By using local materials (lava rock, rammed earth, and concrete), reducing imports, and eliminating technical solutionsm, the environmental impact of the building is kept to a minimum.

Photography by Edwin SEDA ©

In the building's construction, carpentry and locksmith workshops were installed on the site. The ceilings and joineries are made of local wood, slabs were cast-in-place and traditional removable formwork was also used, thus fostering and supporting local trades and business sectors, with up to 400 people working on the building’s site.

Photography by Edwin SEDA ©

Although there is no elevator but a large and comfortable ramp to get to the second floor. In addition, there is no heating and air-conditioning equipment but an efficient natural ventilation system.

The architecture is used for regulating thermal atmospheres. Properly designed fenestration allows daylight to stream into the building, providing healthier and more pleasant conditions. It also reduces demand for artificial lighting which can reduce running costs. The concrete walls are insulated, sealed and plastered from the outside with the aim of controlling the solar heat gain. 

Photography by Jules TOULET ©

The ground floor features a logistic and school facilities: administration, laboratories, workshops, seminar rooms, and auditorium. On the first floor, thirteen prisms house architecture studios, classrooms, and pin-up spaces. Each room has a distinct identity, reflected in its volume, colour, and view. The two parts of the building are connected by several footbridges which gives the construction a dynamic visual identity.

Photography by Edwin SEDA ©

Click for a video of the project.