The new offices for the World Bank Group express a respectful approach to sustainable design, local aesthetics and deep symbolism
In 2009 the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, appointed Co-Arc International to design a new home for their regional offices in Accra, Ghana. The brief was anchored with project drivers that would produce a building that is socially, culturally and environmentally relevant.
Co-Arc turned to the regional architectural context for clues to drive an appropriate design response for the locality. Through the design process, and engaging with the region’s cultural history, Co-Arc aimed to maximise the IFC’s investment by generating a design that integrated sustainable design and a modern aesthetic that is sensitive to the multi-cultural context of Ghana.
The envelope of the building harnesses natural airflows to create a human livable building through layered facades, screening, green roofs and permeability. The layered facade is inspired by Ghanaian Kente cloth, with the interplay of colour and geometries that produce a contextual aesthetic, whilst using passive sustainable design elements.
From the outset, a large existing tree on site was identified as an anchor for a design arranged around a central courtyard space. This aligns to the predominant courtyard typology and the importance accorded significant trees in traditional Ghanaian architecture.
The main entrance foyer, with walls curved in section, defines the northern tip as a focal point of the overall, fully integrated architectural composition. Styled on the tumi te se kosua, an Adinkra symbol showing and egg held delicately, this feature symbolises the delicacy of political power, the fragility of democracy and the need for restraint in fiscal stewardship, used here as an expression of the World Bank Group delicately nurturing the country’s potential.