The South African Customs Union (SACU) Building is a minimalist 4 storey office building designed to be a symbol of unity between all five member states of the SACU (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland).
Completed in 2014, the building was designed by Barnard Mutua Architects and is located on the prominent corner of Lazarette Street and Felt Street in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city. It features a large concrete canopy with vertical fins on adjacent sides, enveloping a smaller rectilinear volume of concrete and glass with a louvered facade.
According to architect Marco Scriba, one of three directors at Barnard Mutua Architects, the main challenge of this building project was balancing the tight budget against the client’s requirement for a unique building with imposing qualities. The building’s shape is square with a single service/ access core in the middle. This reduced the need for excessive structural design and mechanical ventilation and also resulted in an efficient use of the floor area with not many extraneous spaces, such as passages.
The building was carefully positioned on the site to allow for future building expansions along the street. Visitors and officials are invited in via the open square placed at the entrance area. Onsite parking is placed either underneath the building or to the back of the building. Building materials and methods were carefully selected to save costs while at the same time achieving the desired look and feel. The ratio of glass/louvres and brickwork on the façade was optimised in the interests of cost efficiency and each façade was designed to reduce energy consumption and minimise maintenance costs in the future.