If you associate concrete with bulky and unsustainable architecture take a look at this beautiful and innovative airport terminal in Accra, Ghana. Italian architect Mario Cucinella, in collaboration with Deweger Gruter Brown & Partners, has designed a new building in Accra, Ghana that uses concrete in a surprisingly light and eco-friendly way. The clever brise soleil passive design strategy allows the building to be bright and open to natural light while keeping out the sweltering noon/afternoon sun in the summertime, cooling the building when it needs cooling the most. The design has already received the 4-Stars award by Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), which makes Cucinella’s One Airport Square the first green commercial complex in Ghana.
One Airport Square is a striking building featuring a very unique structure on its façade: a criss-crossing brise soleil made out of concrete. Its powerful aesthetic was inspired by the motifs of the traditional African fabrics and peculiar patterns of palm tree bark. While the design embraces local traditions, it also meets the needs of environmental sustainability.
The building’s shell is a combination of overhanging slabs and diagonal frames that shelter the interior against direct sun rays. Thanks to this design, One Airport Square features an unexpected envelope entirely made of glass and, therefore, 17,000 m² of bright interiors that are also protected from the intense sun. Who would have ever imagined a comfortable, completely glazed 9-story building in the heart of Africa?
Besides acting as a giant brise soleil, One Airport Square’s irregular grid is also a load-bearing element of the building.
Interestingly, Cucinella did not simply deliver an eye-catching and sustainable landmark. The development of the Kotoka International Airport area in Accra is also a great public space. From the urban point of view, One Airport Square project is a congregation piazza that’s active day and night and capable of hosting various events and activities. The commercial gallery of the ground floor contains shops, restaurants and cafes, allowing One Airport Square to make a significant contribution to the surrounding community, landscape and providing an example in terms of ethics, cultural sensitivity and environmental sustainability.
Images via Fernando Guerra courtesy of the Mario Cucinella Architects