North Ridge Apartments
Drawings, plans, elevations
Accra is seeing a boom in construction of mid-rise apartment buildings. However, these apartment buildings are usually conceived as luxury apartments drawing from western inspiration without learning from local context and traditional architecture. The question at the root of the design is how can these traditional elements be applied in a modern context while adapting to the new typology of the apartment building. The design of this 8-bedroom apartment building draws on traditional methods of shading and screening. In addition, it is inspired by traditional methods of mark-making on the surfaces of building seen in the Ashanti Region and by the Gurunsi people in the Northern Region of Ghana. The project uses the Adinkra symbol, Mframadan as a starting point in the creation of an abstracted grid which governed the design of various elements on the building (concrete surface manipulation, screens and railings). Adinkra symbols are visual symbols that represent certain concepts and are used widely in fabrics, pottery, wood work and are often applied decoratively in architecture among the Akans of Ghana. The use of the Adinkra symbol as a starting point also served to challenge its current use as purely two-dimensional decorative feature applied to some buildings around the city. The key driving force was questioning whether this notation could be abstracted and used to develop a three-dimensional grid from which various key features could be derived. The building consists of 5 full floor apartments which take advantage of the narrow footprint for daylighting and cross ventilation. In addition, 3 smaller units, a gym, offices and conference facilities occur on the ground and first floor. The addition of office facilities in a residential building was an effort to rethink the current live/work relationships that occur in the city, where people typically live a great deal from where they work resulting in the major traffic issues that occur in Accra. The result is a building that is modern while still referencing traditional elements and serves as an example of how these two opposing ideals (modernism and traditionalism) can blend together in this typology.