Viva Lubango!

31 Oct 2011

Urban development generator for city 'brimming with hope and energy'

In the colonial days of Portuguese rule in Angola, the town of Lubango was known as Sá da Bandeira. It was a place sought out by the Portuguese for its clean air and beautiful highland setting. But through the long, harrowing years of pre and post independence in Angola, Sá da Bandeira, like much of the southern part of the country, was ripped, battered and torn apart by fighting between the MPLA and Unita.

Wonderfully, in the wake of this violent history spurred on by their new-won freedoms, the people have flooded into what has become the city of Lubango, brimming with hope and energy. And at the helm of this ship, the Governor of Huíla Province, Isaac dos Anjos, stands with the aspirations and needs of his people firmly in his mind.

Against this backdrop, Governor dos Anjos laid out a vision to create a world-class city for the people of this extremely wealthy province, starting with a plan for the city centre with a set of future-focused iconic buildings.

To achieve this vision, the Governor turned to a leading business man as well as other property owners and local born investors, to start making this dream for his people a reality, through public-private partnership.

It is clear from even the most cursory look at the old buildings as one passes through Lubango that the spirit of Portuguese Colonial and Brazilian (Angola has always identified with Brazil even to this day) 50s and 60s inspired architecture courses strongly through the city, and in this the idea of using colour as a simple but powerful method of transforming a building into brilliant slabs of colour is well established.

Angola is a tapestry of bright colours, a primary palette seen in the form of birds, fruits, flowers and fauna. A visual lexicon of bright colour, traditionally loved and embraced by both the common people and the elite.

It was an obvious choice for the architects to work with these clean, consciously bright colours as a way to integrate the ideas of iconic buildings with the spirit of the community.

In order for this scheme to be a true generator for growth, the Governor in his briefing called for a microcosm of public, retail, leisure and commercial elements. So with the centrepoint of the scheme being a close-to-completion luxury hotel, the architects expanded a network of shaped, formed and coloured buildings linked with malls, piazzas, bridges and walkways to form a dynamic new urban landscape.

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