Davis Brody Bond just completed the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C., a super progressive design that modernizes the existing buildings built in Dutch Cape style. The new project on Embassy Row boasts several sustainable technologies, including water-efficient plumbing, controlled daylighting, and the use of regionally sourced materials.
The architects’ primary goal was to create a design which would incorporate elements of South African heritage and style without compromising the aesthetic and structural integrity of the existing building. The project included renovation works of the 1936 Ambassador’s Residence and the Chancery, constructed in 1963. By upgrading the buildings and providing new spaces for embassy staff and visitors, the architects at Davis Brody Bond created an environment which expresses transparency and modernity.
A new glass-enclosed central space was created between the two buildings in order to improve access and circulation. It houses a three-story atrium and new multi-purpose rooms, which will be used for public outreach programming. The project pays particular attention to sustainable qualities of the new space and incorporates design strategies such as light pollution reduction, drought-tolerant landscaping, efficient use of water, and others.
In front of the embassy is the 3-meter statue of Nelson Mandela, the work of renowned South African artist Jean Doyle. By preserving open spaces and existing landscaping and introducing a higher degree of visual transparency, the architects transformed the site and its architecture into a daylit and healthy environment that now has a significantly reduced environmental impact.
Photos by Eric Taylor