Matteo Cainer Architects has designed the new Swiss embassy in Cameroon to match the efficiency of the country's iconic time-piece mechanisms. The solar-powered Yaoundé complex features a planted roof, rainwater harvesting and water recycling, sophisticated passive design, along with a complex system of geothermal piping that provides both heating and cooling as necessary. Visit our gallery for a look at the project renders and read on for more details.
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.