John McAslan + Partners complete phase I of the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda
John McAslan + Partners have a considerable body of work in Africa. One of the studio's key projects in Africa is the masterplan for the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, the first phase of which - a new amphitheatre - opens Tuesday 8 April 2014, marking the 20th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide.
Established in 2004, The Kigali Genocide memorial aspires to set a new paradigm in Africa’s ability to respond constructively and sustainably to the catastrophic loss of life that occurs through violent genocidal repression and tragic ignorance.
The masterplan includes a number of landscape and building interventions focused on creating a memorable and dignified environment that supports the importance of the Memorial as a national and international centre for peace and reconciliation. Key aspects of the plan include a new entrance, educational facilities and an archive.
The amphitheatre, which has been inaugurated and marks the completion of Phase I of the masterplan, is the first major architectural project on the site. As a type, amphitheaters are uniquely open, collective and focused environments, making them particularly fitting settings for commemoration and learning.
Described as an ‘open hand in a landscape of loss, memory, and new human and cultural possibilities’, the Genocide Memorial Amphitheatre is carved into the site, providing a place for contemplation and gatherings. According to John McAslan + Partner’s brief, the silence of the terraces next to the gatherings and activities of the amphitheatre creates ‘the presence of absence; the unspoken and spoken together’.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial sits on the site where many thousands of victims of the genocide are buried. It was commissioned by the Aegis Trust, the international organisation working to prevent genocide, and will serve as permanent memorial to those who fell victim to the 1994 genocide. On Monday 7 April, a separate ceremony was attended by international heads of state as well as Samantha Power, US Ambassador to UN, leading the US Delegation; Rt Hon William Hague MP, Tony Blair and others.