One Airport Square

Published
23 Nov 2020

Reading
5 min


The project was designed based on a detailed analysis of the site, the topographical and optimal orientation to become a point of reference and example for the new generation of office buildings in West Africa

Designed by the award-winning sustainability architect Mario Cucinella Architects, One Airport Square (OAS) is a multi-functional building located in the growing commercial area in Airport City, just minutes away from the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, along the Airport by-Pass road. The project was developed by Laurus Development Partners which is a joint venture between Actis and Myma Belo Osagie a Ghanaian national and owner of the land. Sitting on a 17,000 sqm, the building hosts commercial spaces on the ground floor and a ten-floor office block on the southwest of the lot, due to the specific form and orographic features of the site.

The striking development comprises of 2,000 square metres of shops, 15,000 square metres of offices and 250 car parking spaces, it is supported behind the scenes by first-class mechanical, electrical, plumbing systems and lighting with large and efficient floor plates and raised flooring. The project was designed based on a detailed analysis of the site, the topographical and optimal orientation to become a point of reference and example for the new generation of office buildings in West Africa.

Redefining standards and expectations

According to Actis, Ghana’s emerging real estate industry continues to grow, providing a potential demand for international-standard office space and retail experiences. Elegant and contemporary, One Airport Square, a mixed-use development in the growing commercial district of Airport City in Accra, has been designed not just to meet this need, but to redefine standards and expectations. […]

The building is compact in form, contains within it a large hall the function of which is to provide lighting and to facilitate natural ventilation of the interiors. Variation of depth of the shafts determines the configuration of three office types: maxi, midi and mini. A defining element of the building is the movement generated by the projecting terraces, which gradually recede as they rise, floor by floor. These section variations enable increased flexibility in configuring the environments in accordance with the varying requirements of prospective tenants. A further defining element consists in the reinforced concrete structure, the inclined piers of which confer greater rigidity upon the building and the overhangs, while also featuring as a decorative motif for the front.

In view of the desire for a contrast between the project area and the surrounding townscape, the rendezvous space for employees and the public received special attention. Here, the space was configured as a public square, open on the northeast side of the lot while shielded by the commercial floor, arranged as a ring (shops, restaurants, self-service catering establishments). The generously proportioned square is suitable for various events, fairs or other activities, and may be used as an exhibition space for permanently installed works of art. Such initiatives, together with the commercial activities, will bring the area to life, by day and by night.

Aesthetic elements and architectural design are inspired by the traditional local art. The diamond-patterned bark exterior represents Ghana’s palm trees, closely linked to environmental strategies to provide a viable solution to climate problems. This world-class development is the first building in Ghana to be constructed on seismic isolators without the grid systems, and the first to utilise the U-boot slab system for reduction of the superstructure, as well as the first building in Ghana to utilise Halfen coupler system for rebar connections.

The contractor

Being one of Ghana’s leading Civil Engineering and Building Construction Companies, Micheletti & Co. Ltd led the project execution as the main contractor. “One Airport ‘Square’ is truly inspirational because there is no single element in the structure that is ‘Square’. Another interesting bit of this building is the fact that, No ‘Diagrid Column’ is the same. This means the entire 200 plus ‘Diagrid Columns’ are unique in length and inclination. Above all, they are both architectural and structural elements,” comments Mustapha Wahabi, the General Manager – Construction at Micheletti & Co. Ltd, Ghana.

“Most people see the diagrid columns as simply architectural but NO, they aren’t. The Architect didn’t want to create any redundancies of no value. Water supply is also harvested from the high groundwater table. The locally produced Pozzolana Cement was part of the concrete design mix, making the building truly local and cultural,” he adds.
Mustapha affirms that, at the end of the project, 634 individuals passed through the construction, made up of architects, engineers, technicians, artisans, etc, with approximately 2.4million man-hours with zero accidents and zero near-miss incidents. […]

The ultra-modern identity

Apart from the unique architectural features and unlike its peers in Accra, OAS is designed to use 30% less energy with rainwater harvesting systems that use non-potable water for flushing toilets and irrigation, an upgrade to the site ecology from contaminated land to indigenous landscape, a state-of-the-art air-conditioning system with complete refrigerant leak-detection and offers unmatched office quality space to its tenants. OAS is the most advanced development with a unique structure on the façade, a revelation of an eco-friendly building.

The internal layout provides the appropriate shade from direct sunlight. The architecture is expressed by the bare structure itself with no ornament or cladding. Even the stained glass partition outside are located inside the diagonal rod structure, such that the exoskeleton design is free to express itself in its full figurative beauty. The building, therefore, is not “broken down” into elements added to the structure and changing its configuration would affect the language of the building’s aesthetic.

Additionally, the 3D modeling of the grid’s intersections and angles with the floor slabs (always different for each node) is an example of the complex framework generated by the balance of the structural flaws of the whole organism. One Airport Square is the first building in Ghana to have been awarded 4-Stars (Design Stage) by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). The building also won the International Property Awards Africa: Best Office Architecture Ghana in 2012-2013.

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