One Airport Square

In this project by Mario Cucinella for a multifunctional building in Accra, Ghana, architecture and engineering, technology and local tradition work together to achieve maximum efficiency, conveying a new concept of ecological beauty.

Mario Cucinella Architects, One Airport Square, Accra, Ghana
One Airport Square is a multi-functional building in the commerical area of Airport City at Accra, Ghana. It hosts commercial spaces on the ground floor and a ten-floor office block on the southwest of the lot, due to the specific form and orographic features of the site.
In view of the desire for a contrast between the project area and the surrounding townscape, the rendezvous space for employees and the public received special attention. Here, the space was configured by Mario Cucinella Architects as a public square, open on the northeast side of the lot while shielded by the commercial floor, arranged as a ring (shops, restaurants, self-service catering establishments). The generously proportioned square is suitable for various events, fairs or other activities, and may be used as an exhibition space for permanently installed works of art. Such initiatives, together with the commercial activities, will bring the area to life, by day and by night.
Mario Cucinella Architects, One Airport Square, Accra, Ghana
Mario Cucinella Architects, One Airport Square, Accra, 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. Aesthetic elements and architectural design inspired by the traditional local art and 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 form and layouts of the office block are the outcome of ongoing design work based on the functional requirements of the principal and the formal, structural and energy requirements specified by the multi-disciplinary design group. Thanks to their irregular form, reflecting in part the orographic features of the site, the paved surfaces link the street with the upper level of the square, where we find the main entrance to the offices and commercial area. A pair of escalators directly join the public space and the two floors of the underground car park. Even the underground floors are configured considering the typography to the site and present technical solutions for structural earthquake resistant.

The building envelope is the key element that demonstrates the integration between form, structure and environmental strategies. The building, which is compact in form, contains within it a large hall the function of which is to provide lighting and to facilitate natural ventilation of the interiors. Variation of depth of the shafts determines the configuration of three office types: maxi, midi and mini. A defining element of the building is the movement generated by the projecting terraces, which gradually recede as they rise, floor by floor. These section variations enable increased flexibility in configuring the environments in accordance with the varying requirements of prospective tenants.

A further defining element consists in the reinforced concrete structure, the inclined piers of which confer greater rigidity upon the building and the overhangs, while also featuring as a decorative motif for the front.

Mario Cucinella Architects, One Airport Square, Accra, Ghana
Mario Cucinella Architects, One Airport Square, Accra, Ghana

One Airport Square is the first building in Ghana to have been awarded 4-Stars (Design Stage) by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). The project was designed based on a detailed analysis of the site, the topographical and optimal orientation to become a point of reference and example for the new generation of office buildings in West Africa. At this latitude, the sun’s path makes it particularly exposed to solar radiation fronts east and west. This, combined with medium to high temperatures present during the entire course of the year, made it necessary to adopt strategies to reduce the need to cool the building. The plant is based on a principle of distribution of the fresh air conveyed in the floating floor which reaches in a uniform manner throughout the plane. To reduce consumption of drinking water there are technologies that limit the amount of outflow, the duration and the time of delivery, while it is expected the reuse of gray water and rainwater for the toilet.

The sum of all these elements in One Airport Square was determined by a work of integrated design that balances architectural and engineering considerations in order to reduce energy consumption of the building and optimize the use of natural light. The most advanced technologies are balanced with the local tradition, using the most efficient design.

One Airport Square, Accra, Ghana
Program: multifunctional building
Architects: Mario Cucinella Architects
Team: Mario Cucinella, Luca Bertacchi (Architect in charge and Site Architect), Hyun Seok Kim, Giuseppe Perrone, Nada Balestri, Luca Sandri, Giulia Pentella, Alberto Bruno, Yuri Costantini (model maker)
Client: Actis Boston Tower Development Limited
Project Developer: Laurus Development Partners
Structural Engineering: Politecnica Ingegneria e Architettura
Mechanical & Electrical Engineering: Chapman - BDSP
Associate Local Structural & Constructional Engineers: Twum Boafo & Partners
Associate Local MEP Engineers: Impact Technologies Limited
Architect Associate: Deweger Gruter Brown & Partners
Quantity Surveyors: AECOM, London
Associate Quantity Surveyors: A-Kon Consults Limited
Contractor: Micheletti LTD
Area: 17,000 sqm
Completion: 2015

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