MCA introduces One Airport Square - a new commercial development in Accra
The Ghanaian capital of Accra is swiftly becoming one of the strongest economic hubs in West Africa, as vast numbers of people flock to the city in search of work and accommodation. Looking to further this financial development and commercial growth is Laurus Development Partners, an Actis portfolio company which has commissioned Italian design studio Mario Cucinella Architects (MCA) to envision a 17,000 sq m mixed use complex to be situated in the heart of the city.
Speaking at a recent press conference where the initial designs were unveiled, Carlo Matta, CEO of Laurus explained: “One Airport Square will bring the Laurus differentiator to life: our project is designed to be ahead of our time. We don’t just build a project for today but for ten, twenty, fifty years time. Together, Laurus and Actis are seeking to redefine the city skylines of Ghana and Nigeria.”
Plans released by MCA demonstrate a simple but effective use of space, with a public courtyard at the front of a building volume orientated north and south to reduce the negative effects of solar glare. Nine floors of highly flexible office space are coupled with 2,000 sq m of retail facilities, with the external plaza retaining the potential to be transformed into additional shopping space at a later date. A range of food and beverage venders ensure that the complex will be a vibrant social hub during daylight hours and after sundown.
Care has been taken to ensure that the design is as environmentally friendly as possible, with elements of natural daylighting, rainwater collection, natural ventilation through an internal courtyard, and overhanging fins reducing the solar radiation on all facades.
During the creative process, the architects deliberately sought to prove that a highly efficient design does not automatically mean a dependency on technology, factoring in indications towards traditional African design. The product of this is a latticework effect on the exterior of the complex, as MCA explains: “A concrete external structure supports the slabs [inserted to reduce the effects of solar radiation] and creates a decorative motif on the facades taking inspiration from African typical patterns.”
Accra’s contrasting mass of architectural structures has garnered a wide variety of critical essays and analytical blogs, including Accra Architecture by Mae Lokko who documents her cultural critique of the city through a series of inspiring articles and original images. A recent post by the Tufts University graduate explores the romanticism of regenerating the run-down areas of the city, comparing the potential rejuvenation of Jamestown to that of Hoxton in London, with an exploration of how artistic ventures can enable a borough to reignite economic interest.