One Airport Square
Mario Cucinella Architects - Ghana
One Airport Square is a nine-storey building for offices, plus a ground floor designed for commercial activities, for a total of about 17,000 square meters. The building is located in a specific climate and cultural context, that of Accra, in Ghana. In this colorful environment of blue and pink, modernity has been represented by the unusual display of mirrored buildings. Banks and office buildings have no relationship with the climate or language of this culture; they are instead part of that idea or illusion of modernity, which in reality has come to be unsustainable. In One Airport Square building, aesthetic elements and architectural design are inspired by the traditional local art and by the from the bark of the palm trees typical of that area, closely linked to environmental strategies to provide a viable solution to climate problems. The project arises from a few very practical considerations. The movement of the sun in Ghana is vertical, with different latitudes, different angles, and therefore different relationships with buildings. The average temperature is around 23 degrees Celsius while the level of humidity varies depending on the season. In the summer it can reach saturation points of 90%. These simple considerations alone have led us to envision a building with horizontal overhangs to allow for constant shading of the building's glass walls. Reduced solar warming led to a drastic drop in power demands for cooling, and to the possibility of using transparent glass. The other aspect is the structure of the building, which also serves as the façade. The façade was conceived of as a series of disassembled elements, handmade and imperfect, and was built with the essential support of parametric tools designed to optimize building materials. The building envelope becomes the key element that demonstrates the integration between form, structure and environmental strategies. One Airport Square is the first building in West Africa to obtain a 4-star energy performance certificate from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). The final, overall picture of the building is that of a large object constructed by hand, with a series of deliberate inaccuracies, yet perfectly suited to its place and climate. An example of creative empathy.