gutenberg plaza

Location: Windhoek, Namibia

Status: Completed

Client: United Africa Group

Main Contractor: Grinaker LTA

Completion: 2006

At the time this project was conceived, a poorly maintained apartment block and a disorganised assortment of buildings at street level occupied the site for United Africa Group’s new head office building. The early decision to retain the structure of the existing apartment building, together with the site’s inner-city location, made for very tight planning in order to maximise the FAR and asserted a strong influence on the final planning configuration.

Conceptualised to extend the existing network of arcades and courtyards that characterised this sector of the city, the footing of the building withdraws from the southern boundary of the site at street level to accommodate pedestrians while encroaching on the northern edge in order to mitigate the special dominance of the adjacent municipal parking garage. Unfortunately recent developments by surrounding property owners have not continued with this line of thinking and these efforts have been somewhat invalidated as a result.

The existing apartment building was refurbished as office space and linked to the new building via the new western lobby on the lower three levels. The roof was converted into a large entertainment deck that also connects directly to the main lobby volume on the third floor, while the client reserved the top two levels for their own occupation. The upper levels are dominated by the new five-storey tower block, which connects directly to the north of the somewhat lower apartment block structure.

Materials were selected to be maintenance free as far as possible and the concrete frame structure is freely expressed on the balconies and the western brise soleil, where the face brick cladding is terminated. Sun control articulates the northern façade and the generous overhang of the top floor roof serves to terminate the elevation with an appropriate gesture.