Modern Architecture in Rwanda

The Kigali Convention Complex: As colorful as traditional Rwandan dresses

The Kigali Convention Complex stands out in the Rwandan capital’s cityscape. What did German architect Roland Dieterle want to express by using forms and colours that are so unusual for architecture in this country?        

Plan drawing picture of the Kigali Convention Complex at night.
Lit in Rwanda’s national colours: The Convention Complex at night. It is scheduled to be opened in May 2016. @spacial solutions                                                                                

Critics regard the convention centre in Kigali as a building that could be found anywhere in the world. They consider it too Western and feel it is not sufficiently adapted to the Rwandan context.

Its German architect, Roland Dieterle, counters by drawing attention to all of the glazed office buildings that have sprung up in Kigali in recent years; he asks,

‘Do these shimmering blue glass palaces have a stronger African identity?’


Traveling Rwanda to analyse patterns found in the country


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Dieterle, who founded the Munich architecture firm Spacial Solutions, started dealing with the Kigali Convention Complex in 2004.

He notes that he dedicated much time to traveling around the country and analysing its structures and peculiarities before elaborating his architectural concept.

‘We tried to develop a language that originates from within the country.’

‘To reach that goal, we looked at structures and patterns that occur frequently in Rwanda’, Dieterle explains.


Reflecting the structure of a country in the structure of an architectural building



An example of this principle in action is the congress centre’s dome, which was inspired by the royal palace in Nyanza; according to Dierterle,

‘We translated the palace’s round shapes as well as its spiral forms into modern and forward-looking symbolism.’

Depending on the type of event being hosted, the facility can be lit in different colours after dark.


The coourful hotel facade of the Kigali Convention Complex
The colourful hotel facade. It will be managed by the hotel chain Radisson blu. @spacial solutions

The façade of the hotel which is part of the complex features bright colours that are derived from the country’s clothing traditions.



‘We extracted the colours from dresses that are traditionally worn in Rwanda and used them to “clothe” the building’, Dieterle explains.



The façade is also decorated with stripes, which were inspired by Rwandan basket weaving techniques that involve gradually interweaving individual ‘stripes’ of material into the piece being made.

In addition to being decorative, the hotel’s stripes also help to deflect the sun from its interior.

Click here to read more about the story behind the Kigali Convention Complex.

5 thoughts on “Modern Architecture in Rwanda

  1. amazing work
    beautiful Rwanda
    keep shining
    amazing work to all the architect working hard.
    I m a future architect working in progress


  2. I don’t know what a hell these critics are being so anal about everything…the building looks amazing…find a life. great job Mr. Dieterle


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