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Cricket stadium shines in Rwanda

It has been described as ‘the Lord’s of East Africa’ – now Rwanda’s national cricket stadium is bowling over engineering and architectural experts across the globe.

The Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation charity raised the cash to build the spectacular new home of Rwandan cricket on the outskirts of the national capital, Kigali.

The ground is providing a permanent home for the sport, helping its development and increasing opportunity for thousands of disadvantaged young people.

It is also one of the latest high-profile projects that multi-disciplinary planning, design architecture and engineering group FBW Group has been involved in across East Africa.

FBW Group has operations in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania, and a team of more than 30 professionals delivering high value construction and development projects in the region.

FBW’s Rwanda operation was brought in to provide engineering support for the substructure and mezzanine of the ground’s striking pavilion building, as well as civil and MEP design and local oversight.

Design architect Light Earth Designs employed the use of parabolic vaults to create the large span structures that house the ground’s pavilion.

Effectively employed since the Middle Ages, with very ‘lightly engineered’ materials, the system is commonly referred to as a ‘Catalan Vault’.

That ‘Catalan’ approach allowed the creation of a building that, when viewed from the pitch, forms a parabolic shape that perfectly matches a bouncing ball. It also evokes the hills of Rwanda that surround the venue.

Members of the design team produced similar structures in South Africa, including the 2009 World Building of the Year – the Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre.

The vaults are constructed from hand-pressed soil tiles with a minimal amount of cement added and were formed using a hydraulic hand-operated Hydraform press, allowing the majority of the labour required to produce the tiles to be locally sourced.

Structural analysis was used to determine the optimal form of double-curved vaults that transfer forces down to the ground.

The roofs have been waterproofed and topped with local granite that enhances the stability and creates a natural finish.

The building is home to a restaurant, office, changing rooms and service areas, while the open-air mezzanines accommodates a bar and clubhouse with great views of the ground.

Paul Moores, managing director of FBW Group, said:

The pavilion is a very special building, a striking statement of the beauty of using sustainable Rwandan materials and a local workforce to create a truly stand-out sporting venue.

It is a wonderful place to enjoy cricket and it is little wonder that it has attracted so much interest not just in Africa but internationally. We’re honoured to have played our part in its delivery.