Heart of the continent: David Adjaye designs Rwandan cancer centre

Heart of the continent: David Adjaye designs Rwandan cancer centre

Renowned British architect David Adjaye has revealed plans for his firm’s latest project: a paediatric cancer centre in Rwanda. 

Set across 40,000 sq m of Gahanga sector, in the Kicukiro district of Kigali, the Eugène Gasana Jr Foundation-commissioned hospital will provide medical services and lodging facilities for outpatients, as well as residential housing for physicians and nurses. 

The design draws on the traditional architectural vernacular of the region, inspired by the practice of imigongo, a popular art form in Rwanda that uses black, white and red patterns, often portrayed on walls, pottery and canvas within the region. 

Most importantly, the 100-bed hospital called for a space that would ’add dignity and hope to the lives of the children’, a brief met through the inclusion of sweeping views, natural light and verdant plants throughout. David Adjaye commented, ’The design parameters [of this project] acknowledge the important role of environment on patient care and the process of healing is understood to be intrinsically linked to qualities such as light, views and materiality.’

A geometric language plays with the traditional compositions of imigongo, making the build a thoroughly modern proposition. Three densely planted external courtyards – cleverly surrounded by accommodation for uninterrupted views of the exterior – bring daylight deep into the three-storey structure.   

To shade it from the African sun, metallic triangular screens are knitted together, increasing and decreasing in density depending on their orientation, making the interior light ’gently tempered’. As they age, the metallic screens will weather and blend with the planting, giving the building an organic, living feel. 

Made using sustainable resources, the firm has yet to announce a completion date, but the project is already considered ’a first for the continent, at the heart of the continent.’

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