Recent office developments in Lagos embrace architectural form merely as image-making. With financial gain as goal, image and show take precedence over sustainability, social impact and spatial experience. The Otunba project adopts strict budget constraints yet utilizes context and natural climate as generative tools to challenge the prevalent office building typology. It serves as a flexible, affordable spatial massing model highly responsive to site constraints to minimize its environmental and maximize its social impact. The minimum building footprint frees the plot from excessive construction, enabling expansive public spaces and neighborhood connections. The “reverse setback” strategy reacts to specific site orientation as the volume expands every two floors on both the south and east façade creating a volumetric brise-soleil shading the offices below while the northern facades flattens to a staggered silhouette.
“The Reverse Setback”: Flexible Massing Spatial Model
The Project serves as a spatial massing prototype that can be configured on various sites. An innovative manipulation of the 1916 New York zoning regulation, the “reverse setback” strategy can be modified according to specific site constraints. Rather than serve as a model for maximizing built up area with a receding floorplate, the reverse approach emphasizes a minimized footprint and expanding upper floors. This allows for extensive viable communal areas on the scale of the neighborhood and city filtering into the building. The massing approach allows a minimum built up area on the ground level and maximum public space. This establishes neighborhood connections and multi-purpose outdoor areas for social interaction. With non-structural exterior cladding, and column free interior plans allow for maximum flexibility. This flexible massing prototype can be replicated in various configurations while achieving the same impact.
“Volumetric Brise-Soleil”: Affordable and Transferable Sustainability Concepts
The Otumba project serves as an affordable, sustainable model for construction in fast economic growth settings. It emphasizes economical sustainable concepts easily replicated with minimal financial impact on project budget. With a reduced building footprint (less than twenty percent of horizontal coverage), the natural landscape is preserved. Unbuilt surfaces allow for excess rainwater absorption and the expansion of lush gardens. The innovative massing transforms the building into a volumetric brise-soleil. The project responds to specific site orientation and naturally shades itself from the tropical sun on the western and southern façade. Natural daylight is further enhanced on the ground level. A dual layer of vegetation and flexible louvers on the western façade and natural ventilation based on the site orientation minimize the project’s ecological footprint and the reliance on mechanical systems for cooling.
“Sustainable Synergy”: Sustainability Engaging the Community
With sprawling construction across the urban landscape of Lagos, developers often sequester the tenants into highly insulated projects. As built up area is emphasized, public space is often relegated from the list of priorities. This very public space could serve as a catalyst for interaction between tenants and neighborhood residents. Based on communication with the local community, its members felt often alienated from new developments. The Otunba project offers the developer the required FAR but opens the site to the larger community by emphasizing extensive public space on the ground floor. The open and free landscape invites the public into the site, creating viable commercial stores on the ground floor and enabling social interaction. The rotating façade louvers show the intrinsic relationship and synergy between sustainability and social interaction, as they rotate and create a projection screen for an outdoor theater.
Domaine Public Architects was founded in 2012 by graduates from Harvard University. Our diverse portfolio of work includes projects in the United States, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Spain, Mexico and the Middle East. Our experience ranges from galleries, apartments, private houses, hotels, to large scale residential projects and master-plans. The practice provides full architectural, landscape and interior design, masterplanning and furniture design services for public and private clients.
We believe design is the refined synthesis of specific key variables, that when combined materialize in innovative design. These variables may change based on client needs, budget, desired program, and site. It is through thorough analysis, rigorous critical thinking, sensitivity to materials and geometry, and intensive dialogue with all parties involved, that we capitalize on these variables to develop our inventive body of work.
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