The Swiss embassy complex has been designed to have three main functions: the Chancellery, the Ambassador’s residence and staff quarters. Private and public functions have been separated, and the Ambassador’s residence acts as a bridge between the two. Designed after the traditional Musgum house, the house is organized around a central, circular courtyard and private garden – an oasis in the steamy capital, while a low-maintenance sedum roof covers the Chancellery.
Rooftop rainwater harvesting will provide water for irrigation and plumbing, while another garden system that will be purified naturally will provide potable water for the entire complex. Although Cameroon does experience a decent amount of rainfall, no effort at water conservation is unwelcome.
The concrete walls (with high thermal massing) are all clad in natural materials and very well insulated, drastically reducing energy loads. This combined with digitally-controlled sunshades that mitigate solar gain and a system of underground tubes that circulate cool and hot air would allow this project to meet Switzerland’s stringent Minergie standards, setting a new example for energy-efficient construction in the West African country.