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Cenored Head Office
Otjiwarongo, Namibia




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20°27'45.71" S 16°38'55.36" E Alt: 1474m

The project brief was to design a double storey Cenored Head Office which was then narrowed down to a partly double storey office building due to the budget constraints. The brief highlighted the need to house two major departments of Cenored, Revenue Consolidation Department and Corporate Support Consolidation Department with the CEO supervising the two departments. In addition to its staff the building was meant to serve the public as well, hence the design was to clearly define the circulation of the public as well as the staff members.

After getting a clear brief from the client the architects saw the need to separate the two major departments (Revenue and Corporate), because of their different activities, into two wings joined by the public areas and the Chief Executive Office. This resulted in the L-Shape concept of the building. This shape allowed the building to pose itself to the public in two faces to the both roads. The major advantage of the L shape was its ability to invite the public into the building.

The wings open out to the public in an inviting gesture and draw people towards the central entrance that is highlighted by the double storey tower. This tower houses the not only the reception and cashier, but also the CEO’s office with the boardroom that sits on the first floor. Hierarchy of space was pivotal hence centrally placing the CEO, so that he can tower over all departments with strict supervision.

One major challenge that was posed by the L-shape was one wing became east west oriented whereas the other wing was north south. To solve this challenge the architects introduced deep overhangs that floated over the solarvue one and half volume glass facades. The one and half volume open plan offices became cooler due to the ceiling height (4.5m AFFL) and the deep overhangs. The result was amazing in terms of temperature control as well as producing a floating architecture. With the help of engineers, beams floated over 12m and are anchored by stone masonry walls that bring the building down to the local aesthetics. The stones were locally supplied, about 20km from the site and they blend the building into Namibian desert architecture.

Roofing for the two wings was monopitch roofs which were deliberately left with exposed eaves at the back due to the excessive rains that frequent Otjiwarongo. The architects did not want water leakages problems with the roof.

In front of the building the architects together with the landscape designers introduced a dry garden concept so as to minimalise on garden maintenance and reduce water usage. To cool down the dry garden lies a holistic round water feature that cools and cleanse the user of the building before they enter the majestic glass entrance. One can sit on this water feature edges while taking a breather. This stems from the common African tradition that when one visits a friend’s homestead, before you are given any food you are given water to drink, with the assumption that the journey from where you are coming from was hot and long.

(ABA Architects)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.