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The Kamwokya Community Centre by Architect Francis Kere

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The Kamwokya Community Centre, by architect Francis Kere goes beyond its practical function, inspiring pride and ownership among the community  

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Francis Kéré’s firm Kéré Architecture has built a community center that features butterfly roofs and low-rise structures in Kamwokya, one of the most underserved areas of Uganda’s capital Kampala. 

Named Kamwokya Community Center, the 1,600-square-metre community centre was realized in partnership with the local non-profit Kamwokya Christian Caring Community (KCCC), which runs sports, leisure and artistic activities in one of the poorest areas of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, and the Ameropa Foundation, which works internationally on projects that aim to improve the lives of marginalised communities.

The new community centre accommodates a range of activities in sports, music, dance and culture as well as adult literacy, informal education for children and health education for people living in one of the most underserved areas of Uganda’s capital. Located in a valley among the hills of Kampala’s central district, Kamwokya is known for its extremely high population density, insufficient infrastructure and poor health conditions. The new centre is open to everyone regardless of religion, gender and background, strengthening the site’s fundamentally public and free character. 

Kéré Architecture’s aim on this project was to preserve and enhance the public and free character of the site, rather than imposing a new and a different element. The Kamwokya Community Centre has created lasting, innovative architecture that will provide inspiration and a public space for the community.

The program elements of the complex consist of a multipurpose building, internet cafe, gathering space, multi-sports field, raised play space, community hall, changing room, toilets, water tower and rainwater harvesting. The key goal of the project was to uplift it gently. At the heart of the area, there is a playground that provides a more conducive space for the activities already happening on site. It houses sports training and matches, spontaneous gatherings, community events, workshops, and music and dance classes.

The studio raised the entire project on a platform featuring an efficient drainage system to protect it from recurrent floods during heavy rains. The platform has been divided into distinct areas by using slight differences in level that allow multiple activities to take place simultaneously without interfering with one another.

The main sports field drained and shaded, is surrounded by tribune-like steps to watch the games or gather informally. On the platform, two naturally ventilated buildings house a small gym, an internet café, various multi-purpose rooms for classes and workshops, a music studio and an office, as well as an adjacent sanitary block. These spaces are covered by two butterfly roofs raised by steel structures to allow for airflow, which gives a strong identity to the site in its urban context.

The centre is a development that demonstrates that the marginalised communities deserve better and it gives children, adolescents and adults moments of hope, happiness and sustainable solutions to their needs, in addition to providing them with new aspects of better living.

Content and images from various internet resources

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Digital Tabloid Edition - Dec 2023 Issue 2 Vol 44

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