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Competition: Hope Dental Centre, Rwanda

An open international contest has been launched to design and build a new sustainable dental treatment and training facility in Kigali, Rwanda (Deadline: 6 March)

The contest, organised by Archstorming on behalf of not-for-profit health organisation His Hands on Africa (HHOA), invites students and architects to draw up concepts for a new $2 million dentist’s clinic and dental academy for the Kacyiru area of the Rwandan capital.

The project, planned to complete in 2022, aims to provide new sustainable dental services for the small central African country where it is estimated around 18 per cent of deaths are currently caused by easily treatable oral diseases. The winning team will receive €6,000 and the chance to see their project built on a 9,998m² site in the city.

Contest site: Hope Dental Centre, Rwanda

Contest site: Hope Dental Centre, Rwanda

Contest site: Hope Dental Centre, Rwanda

According to the brief: ‘The HOPE Dental Centre will operate a world-class dental clinic in the Kacyiru sector of the capital city, Kigali. It will be the foundation of HHOA’s vision for a sustainable dental care system in Rwanda. The clinic will be equipped with the latest dental equipment and technology and managed with efficiency to provide an excellent patient experience.

‘It will provide dental care to nearby high-income clientele, such as those employed by embassies, corporations and NGOs in Kigali. The profits from the centre will then go towards funding the other two HHOA mission components, which focus on training and discipling local Rwandan dentists, and operating community and mobile xlinics throughout the country. Once firmly established, the centre’s ongoing operations and management will be transferred to Rwandan doctors and staff.’

Kigali is the capital and largest city of Rwanda, which is one of the smallest countries in Africa. The rapidly growing 730km2 city is home to around 1.1 million people and is facing a growing crisis in the availability of good quality affordable housing. In November, RIBA launched a contest for a 600ha residential masterplan in the city.

Healthcare is a major issue in the country with Rwanda’s president recently speaking out about inefficiencies in the sector and encouraging doctors and nurses to work more effectively to achieve national wellbeing. Rwanda currently has around 48 dentists for a population or around 12 million people which is equivalent to around one professional for every 250,000 patients. In comparison, the US has around one dentist per 1,600 patients.

The latest project aims to help create a sustainable dentistry network for Rwanda. The competition is backed by HHOA which was founded three years ago by dentists Thomas Lee and Lita Lee who are planning to relocate to Rwanda next year and set up their new practice where they will work for the next decade.

Proposals for the three-building complex should include a treatment room, teaching room, reception area, private waiting room, director’s office, consultation room, offices, a laboratory, conference room, cafeteria, kitchen and living quarters. Judges will include Patrick Schweitzer of France’s S&AA and Alice Tasca of Kigali-based Active Social Architecture.

The overall winner, to be announced on 25 March, will receive €6,000 and see their scheme constructed. A second place prize of €2,000, third prize of €1,000, two special honourable mentions worth €500 and 10 further monourable mentions will also be awarded.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 6 March


Regular registration to 15 January: €96.80
Advanced registration from 16 January to 12 February: €121.00
Late registration from 13 February to 6 March: €145.20

Contact details


View the competition website for more information

Q&A with Javier Pulido

The chief executive of Archstorming discusses his ambitions for the competition

Javier Pulido

Javier Pulido

Javier Pulido

Why are your holding an international contest for a new dental clinic and training centre in Kigali?

Archstorming is always looking for challenging projects and great partnerships. In this occasion, we are partnering up with His Hands on Africa which is a non-profit organization created in 2016 that wants to address the lack of dental facilities across parts of the continent by equipping communities to achieve sustainable services with dignity.

Tom Lee and his wife Lita are moving to Rwanda to establish a dental clinic and training centre in the capital, Kigali. We discussed it and thought that it would be a great opportunity for architects from all over the world to show how they imagine the facility. It is also a great chance for architects to get to know the local architecture of African countries.

Contest site: Hope Dental Centre, Rwanda

Contest site: Hope Dental Centre, Rwanda

Contest site: Hope Dental Centre, Rwanda

What is your vision for the new Hope Dental Centre?

The facility will include a dental clinic and a training centre. The dental clinic will be the foundation of HHOA’s vision for a sustainable dental care system for Rwanda. The clinic will be equipped with the latest dental equipment and technology. The NGO would like to create a modern building with Rwandan and African influences. In addition to the dental clinic itself, the HOPE Dental Centre will include a state-of-the-art training institute and dental laboratory where local dentists will receive advanced dental training.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

Archstorming competitions are open to everyone. Architecture students and professional firms are welcome to participate in the HOPE Dental Center competition. These kinds of competitions are a great way for small emerging practices to see a project of this nature being built in real life. After the winning proposal is chosen, that team will have the chance to work alongside the NGO in the next phases of the scheme’s design and construction.

Contest site: Hope Dental Centre, Rwanda

Contest site: Hope Dental Centre, Rwanda

Contest site: Hope Dental Centre, Rwanda

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

We are now really focused on the dental centre in Rwanda, but we are always exploring new opportunities for students and professionals. Our goal is to help people through architecture, we think that architects really have a lot to say about humanitarian aid. We will keep working on competitions in countries where we can make a difference.

Are there any other recent similar healthcare projects you have been impressed by?

We always try to have jury members that are a reference in what the competition is about. For example, on this occasion we were really impressed by the IRCAD Africa building, a training center for surgeons in Kigali that was designed by S&AA, a French architecture firm led by Patrick Schweitzer. He recently confirmed that he will be joining the HOPE Dental Centre jury team.