This contemporary, mixed-use development reflects a progressive, innovative, collaborative approach to business as well as the positive progressive mood of the newly independent country. The building is conceived as a village with a series of solids and voids arranged along a street that leads via a generous public-scaled staircase up from Luther street, inviting people in and tying the building functionally and visually to the neighbourhood. Staircases off this internal street lead to the entrances of the upstairs units, animating the spaces and further reinforcing the notion of a village street.
The forms are abstracted cubes, and the detailing is minimal to reinforce the clarity of the spaces. A canopy of perforated steel panels floats over the street providing shade and a sense of enclosure. Names of people who have supported the client on his journey or who have contributed to his buildings, and words that express the client’s core values have been cut out of the steel panels, creating a delightful shadow play on the floor and walls.
Established in 1889, SACU manifests the regional co-operation between its member states – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Eswatini. To give importance to the stature of the institution, the design approach was to have a freestanding building with strong historical references. The white cubic form stands on a raised platform in a classical manner, referencing other buildings of government and civic importance. The cube is articulated and abstracted further through vertical concrete fins which create a strong columnar rhythm. These fins are contrasted with thin steel columns supporting sunscreen louvres on the east and west facades, to mitigate thermal exposure.
The dark surface treatment of the top floor helps to accentuate the abstract exterior colonnade supporting a floating roof. Visitors are welcomed into the multi-volume entrance atrium via a porte-cochere. The simplicity of the exterior form is carried through in the legibility of the internal space, with offices arranged around a central core, optimizing views and exposure to natural light.