Photo by James Steinkamp
Universidade Agostinho Neto (UAN) is the primary, state-funded institution of education in Angola comprised of multiple faculties located across ten of the country’s eighteen provinces. Surging student populations and increased government investment spurred UAN to develop an expanded, centralized campus and create a hub for its diffuse operations. Phase 1 includes planning and design of four classroom building zones, a central library and a plaza form the core of the campus that is expected to expand and develop over six phases.
The overall aesthetic direction of the buildings reflects the spirit of Luanda’s Modernist architectural leanings. Buildings are elevated on pilotis and shaded by brise-soleil in the style of many Le Corbusier-inspired structures.
The jury said, “To be able to pull this off in a contemporary language in the desert is pretty amazing . . . both symbolic image and environmentally derived, integrated and aesthetically pure . . .”
Low-energy cooling solutions were developed to ameliorate the hot conditions of Luanda’s sub-Saharan climate. Rooftop canopies form a passive cooling system preventing build-up of stagnant hot air in the buildings. The system minimally impacts the environment and is a defining architectural feature of the campus.
Two and three-story buildings are connected by a signature, undulating trellis-like roof that provides shade, encourages natural ventilation and communicates campus connectivity. Buildings are oriented to provide passive cooling and shading. Daylighting is harvested and controlled by light-shelves and solar screens, located for maximum effect.
The departments of mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer sciences and the library were grouped at the center of campus to reflect the university’s academic bias toward science. Including the library in Phase 1 was a key phasing and implementation strategy to serve the campus beyond the role of a library. It includes student services facilities, a temporary rectory and a cafeteria and will eventually expand to fill the entire building. Amenities will then be accommodated elsewhere. The five-story library tower is a dominant vertical landmark and anchor for the campus.
“The team has provided an achievable roadmap in fulfilling Phase 1. The new campus is a catalyst for growth and development and is a symbol of the country’s commitment to education,” says Maria Manuela Ferraz, Architect and Project Director, Republic of Angola Ministry of Construction.
Project Team: Universidade Agostinho Neto for the Master Plan, Design and Implementation of the New Campus with Perkins + Will; also Dar Al-Handasah, Shair and Partners; Battle McCarthy; Paulien & Associates; Schuler & Shook; Grinaker LTA; Soares da Costa; Somague Engenharia, S.A.; China Jiangsu International Economic Technical Cooperation Corporation; Seveme