[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he Lubango Center is a 9 storey, mixed-use building in Lubango, the capital city of the Angolan province of Huíla. Designed by Portugese architecture practice, Promontorio, the building is intended to be low maintenance with a brick facade that nods to the rich textures and colours of African rammed earth and pottery. The building includes a shaded ground floor retail level, 4 levels of office spaces, 5 levels of housing apartments including studios, 3 bed units and double height duplex units. It also features underground parking and roof terrace that accomodates storage, services and technical areas.
The end of the Angolan civil war witnessed the beginning of development and urban reconstruction. At first exclusively focused in Luanda, it has gradually extended to hinterland cities such as Lubango, capital of Huila district. This mixed-use building is set in a consolidated area, next to the main square and surrounded by a few remaining buildings of Portuguese modernist legacy. With 9-storey the building includes residential, offices and shops served by a common access and underground parking.
On the ground floor, a sheltered and naturally ventilated open gallery generates a shaded and fresh space, allowing direct access to the shop fronts, to the residential and offices lobbies, and to a small backyard coffee-shop terrace. Above ground-level there are, 4 levels of offices, 3 levels of single-storey apartments and, in the last 2 levels, duplex units, including variants of double-height studios to 3-bedroom units. The roof terrace accommodates residents’ storage rooms, laundry services and technical areas.
The construction concept is based on a principle of robustness that should enable this solid and simple building to guarantee comfort, durability and low maintenance. The module of recessed balconies provides the natural shading resulting from its depth, in addition to an accessible and ventilated façade technical compartment. The resulting thickness of the solid masonry walls is interrupted by concrete slabs, which function as a continuous lintel.
This tectonic expression is reinforced by the materiality of the brickwork laid in ‘soldier-and-stretcher’ courses, evocative of the rich textures and colours of African rammed earth and pottery. Finally, the stratification of this materiality is emphasized by the white paint on concrete lintels and bronze aluminium window frames. Along the northwest and southeast windowless facades, we have chosen to maintain the same masonry with a brickwork composition similar to the main facade.
Location Rua 14 de Abril (Lubango), Angola
Programme Mixed-use residential (1- to 3-bdr units), offices and retail
Plot Area 550 sq.m
Gross Built Area 2,650 sq.m (housing), 2,200 sq.m (offices) and 950 sq.m (retail)
Construction Cost EUR 5,5M (N2.3 Billion)
Project Status 2010 (competition, 1st-prize) – 2016 (built and open to public)