Groosman to build cantilevered arts centre in Rwandan capital

Groosman to create extreme cantilevers for arts centre in Rwanda's capital

An arts and cultural centre with two huge cantilevered wings has been unveiled by Dutch architectural firm Groosman as the latest in a string of architectural developments in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Rotterdam-based studio worked with with engineers Geelhoed Group on the design of Kigali Art & Culture Centre, which will be situated on the outskirts of Rwanda's hilly capital. The cross-shaped block will be decorated with traditional geometric African patterns and will feature two cantilevered sections that overhang an elevated plaza.

Two further buildings – a hotel and office complex, and a housing block – will sit on the plaza, while a subterranean shopping centre will sit below.

The Kigali Art & Culture Centre is one of several architectural projects that make up a new masterplan for the city, along with a children's cancer treatment centre by David Adjaye.

Kigali Art & Culture Centre, Rwanda by Groosman

The country is frequently described as a "land of 1,000 hills" and the centre will sit at the intersection of the city and its surrounding wetlands and mountains.

"Our design concept for Kigali Art & Culture Centre is inspired by African art, crafts and culture," said Groosman. "Very typical of this African identity is the use of patterns. These form the basis for our design."

Like the facade of the cultural centre, the raised public square will be covered in symbolic patterns and divided up by a grid with sections measuring 50 by 50 metres, each with its own programme.

"This grid is the urban grid on which the buildings are situated," explained the studio. "Each part of the grid has its own function; water [swimming pool], entertainment, playground, outdoor theatre, events area, park, stairs."

Two 50-metre cubes will stand at diagonal corners of the square, while another segment of the grid will be occupied by an outdoor swimming pool. The cubic volume on the north side of the square will house a hotel and offices, while the block on the southern side of the square will be a residential complex.

Kigali Art & Culture Centre, Rwanda by Groosman
Sketch – click for larger image

Two of the cultural centre's four wings will overhang the plaza, which is to have a car park situated alongside the shopping centre below its surface. The large cantilevered volumes will offer relief from the sun and rain, and views of the surrounding landscape for those inside.

"The cultural centre is designed so that it does not hinder in the public space" explained the architects. "The rooms of the building hanging over the public square back and come together in an area of ​​50 by 50 metres."

"The cantilevered portions leave the building space for cultural activities in the square and offers protection against the tropical climate," they added.

Kigali Art & Culture Centre, Rwanda by Groosman
Diagram of the site – click for larger image

The complex is the latest in a surge of architectural projects in the East African country, with others including a "drone port" by British firm Foster + Partners, as well as Adjaye's cancer centre.

Both projects aim to improve access to medical treatment in the mountainous continent, where it is estimated that just one third of the population live within a mile of an all-season road, making it difficult to transport medical supplies to remote areas.

Kigali Art & Culture Centre, Rwanda by Groosman
Exploded diagram – click for larger image

Tanzanian-born Adjaye, who has several projects underway in Africa, told Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs that the continent offers an "extraordinary opportunity" for architects.

Earlier this year US firm MASS Design Group announced its plans to start an architecture and design training centre in Kigali to help address the "dearth of professional designers" across Africa.