Seeking to centralize higher education and retain talent, the government of Angola funded the construction of a new university campus, designed by Perkins+Will, on a previously undeveloped savanna site outside the capital, Luanda. The architects created a pinwheel master plan, concentrating the recently completed first phase—including a new central library and four classroom buildings—at the center of the site, with room for expansion along the “spokes.” Cooled by natural ventilation, the classroom buildings are linear concrete bars oriented to capture prevailing winds. The library, sunken below grade, is the only building with air conditioning. The campus’s defining feature is an undulating louvered roof canopy that spans the classroom buildings and the courtyards between. Its angles function much like the wings of an airplane, creating pressure differentiation to maximize airflow.
“I think it’s extraordinary in terms of resurrecting some earlier modern motifs and materials, and yet doing it in a way that feels pretty fresh and appropriate for the context.” —G. Martin Moeller Jr.
Project Universidade Agostinho Neto, Luanda, Angola
Client Ministry of Urban Affairs and Public Works on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Culture
Architect Perkins+Will, Chicago—Ralph Johnson, FAIA (design principal); William Doerge (principal-in-charge); Todd Snapp, AIA, David Gutierrez, Thomas Demetrion, Cengiz Yetken, AIA, Mark Hartmann, AIA, Kenneth Soch, AIA, Marius Ronnett, AIA, Nathalie Belanger, Bryce de Reynier, AIA, Angel Ortiz, Flavia de Almeida, Lori Day, AIA, Todd Accardi, AIA, John Ruthven, Jeffrey Hayner, Michael Weiner, Michael McPhail, AIA; Interiors—Karen Schuman, Paula Pilolla, Chinatsu Kaneko, David Carr, AIA, Linda Swain, Austin Zike
M/E/P, Structural, and Civil Engineer Dar Al-Handasah, Shair and Partners—Yousef Motar (engineering project director)
Environmental Engineer Battle McCarthy—Guy Battle (principal)
Landscape Architect Dar Al-Handasah, Shair and Partners—Yousef Motar; Battle McCarthy—Guy Battle
Lighting Designer Schuler Shook—Emily Klingensmith
Library Consultant Paulien & Associates—John Bengston
General Contractors Grinaker LTA (infrastructure); Soares da Costa (core & shell); JiangSu International (interior fit-out); Somague Engenharia (library); China Jiangsu International Economic Technical Cooperation Corporation (colleges)
Size 330,000 square feet (phase 1); 1.2 million square feet (expected full build-out)
Photographer James Steinkamp