It is one of the most popular in the capital because its construction has incorporated a number of eco-friendly designs, like the rain water harvesting system, green roofing features and other sustainable features.
Architectural creativity is premised not only in formalistic manipulation of building aesthetics, but in the total integration of informants underpinning a sustainable design. To the architect any given locality may offer opportunities for relevant contributions, environmentally, culturally or socially.
In designing the new country offices of the World Bank Group in Accra, Ghana, mindful of the group’s advocacy of sustainability in development, the architects turned to regional architectures for clues about appropriate design responses for the locality. Thus the combination of functional expression of the Client's operational needs, combined with responses to the regional urban and climatic context, and to the integration of sustainable design solutions have generated a bold and clear design response. Enriching this functional approach to place-making and passive climate control, is a reading of the multi-cultural context of Ghana which, in its diverse forms of cultural expression, offers relevant contextual clues for reinterpretation into a modern aesthetic solution.
Thus a rational arrangement of a structural frame, ordering functionally flexible and adaptable floor plates and incorporating a clear circulation and services reticulation concept creates the underlying order and, in its proportioning, the overall visual harmony.
“Green” building approaches to American LEED criteria underpin a comprehensive set of sustainable design approaches. The intent of a LEED certification and thus sustainable best practice is met, even though, in consultation with the US Green Building Council in Washington, it was decided not to pursue certification, given the non-transferability of certain LEED criteria to the West African context.
Sustainable approaches to the envelope (layered facades with creative use of glazing and screening, green roofs and façade permeability to harness natural airflows) add depth and transparency to the building. In its execution the layering of façade elements is inspired by Kente Cloth, with the interplay of colour and geometries in the layered facade creating changeable geometries and appearances as one passes by or as the light changes with passing time.
From the outset a large existing tree on site was identified as an anchor for a design arranged around a central courtyard space. This aligns to the predominant courtyard typology and the importance accorded significant trees in Ghanaian architecture.
In keeping with local traditions for tropical building design, present in vernacular buildings and in colonial architectural adaptations, the office block has been raised on stilts on one side, which permits air to be drawn by natural convection flow from under the building and through the courtyard, offering a cooling breeze in the courtyard space and the possibility to stimulate natural airflows through the building via openable courtyard windows.
The main entrance foyer, with walls curved in section, defines the northern tip as focal point of the overall, fully integrated, architectural composition. Styled on the tumi te se kosua, an Adinkra symbol showing an egg held delicately, this feature reminds us of the delicacy of political power, the fragility of democracy and the need for restraint, used here as an expression of the World Bank group delicately nurturing a country’s potential.