Kigali Genocide Memorial - African Center for Peace
MASS Design Group - Rwanda
Drawings, plans, elevations
The new Genocide Archive of Rwanda will form a key part of an international commitment to prevent mass atrocities, creating a world without genocide. Just as we prevent epidemics because we know the risk factors that cause them, so too we can work to prevent genocide by countering the conditions which lead to it. This will be the centre-piece of the expanded Kigali Genocide Memorial. Personal memories of the genocide provide a basis for the healing of traumas, a recognition of what took place, and the beginnings of reconciliation and new lives. Future generations of Rwandans and international researchers need access to eye-witness testimony and documented evidence of the genocide. In partnership with CNLG, Aegis Trust created the Genocide Archive of Rwanda in 2010, a physical archive and a digital repository that can be accessed for research. Bringing these, and other archives together will form the basis of a central repository accessible for research nationally and internationally. This could also be a permanent archive for the Gacaca files. This project begins with the space of the testimonial. One testimony, one story, one memory—while singular—can be the foundation upon which a brighter future is built. When we offer a testimony, we give the world a story and a document. We author history. And through that history we imagine a future strengthened by the memories of the past. When we listen to that testimony, we do not entomb those memories but instead activate their power to remind us of our shared history, and our collective future. Recording and listening to those stories are the foundation of mass atrocity prevention, a dignified space for recording one’s story and learning about the stories of others. The testimonial as pillar—intimately scaled and full of light—becomes the structure of the building. As this pillar combines with other pillars, other spaces for reflection, education, exhibition and learning emerge, symbolizing the diversity of stories from which the building is formed. The resulting space is a forest, a gallery, a memory bank, and a library, giving us ownership of our future, but also reverence for the stories and memories which make up our past. When we leave the archive at night, the pillars transform into beacons of light, symbolizing the bright future of Rwanda which lies ahead.