The HOPE Dental Centre is established from the simple act of love and compassion, and these values are to be reflected onto the making of its architecture. A building of such gesture has to portray an embracing and utilitarian demeanour that it welcomes the public to occupy and participate. While being a private property and a formal healthcare facility contradicts the very definition of extroverted spaces, the preconceived idea of how a healthcare architecture should looks like has to be challenged: the rigid clinical environment has to be imbued with the warmth and love of that similar to which His Hand On Africa (HHOA) displays.
The design of the proposed Dental Centre stemmed from a very fundamental architectural question: “How can we eliminate the perimeter walls to create a porous and welcoming space without compromising on security?” With safety being a concern for openness, the idea of a sunken Dental Centre portrays itself as a feasible solution for both security and civic purposes, as well as eradicating the worry of potential ground instability caused by the adjacent excavated land.
The Dental Centre is thus imagined as a sunken space cut into the ground and hugged by the topography. Metaphorically a womb – it becomes a place of solace and a warm refuge from the rough world. Using the ground as natural barrier, a canopy in the pattern of Imigongo draped over it with planters and walkable platforms replicating the natural landscape and reconnecting the existing walkway. Columns extending from the canopy then dictate the spaces underneath, expressing the architecture in Rwandan geometries.
With the aim of creating an intimate spatial quality to cater for the psychological needs, individual spaces of the Dental Centre are broken down into smaller blocks, rearranged and distributed over the site forming courtyards and gardens in between. This offers every space to be connected to an outdoor garden, allowing the calming view of greens to be absorbed and the relaxing scent of nature taken in at any time. By breaking down large site into smaller human scale spaces – the result feels more like an extension of the neighbourhood instead of an object plunged onto the landscape.
Here, a sense of familiarity is cultivated to eliminated the anxiety of walking into a new space. And while the architecture blends with the landscape, the strictly functional space of the Dental Centre blends with intriguing poetic values and experiences.