by Jerry ElengicalJan 31, 2023
Orange, one of the largest telecommunications providers in the West African nation of Côte d'Ivoire, now has a new headquarters in the city of Abidjan, designed by local firm Koffi & Diabaté Architectes. Expressed as a looped seven-storey structure that hosts an array of green terraces across its levels, Orange Village aims to present a vision for an innovative blend of biophilic design and high-tech architecture that could chart out the future of design in the country and continent at large. Sheathed in a double skin façade that shields it from the region’s warm climate, the office building's design is said to be anchored in sustainability, with an emphasis on interaction and creativity.
Imposing in its scale and forward-thinking in its style, the structure has been configured as a series of seven rings, each 68 metres in diameter stacked above one another to form receding terraces which have been oriented by taking cues from the natural green cover of the surrounding context. Envisioned as a new landmark architectural development in the Riviera Golf district of Abidjan, the new headquarters is part of a planned larger complex that will bring a host of green areas including urban parks and multifunctional public spaces to this quarter of the city. The structure subsequently rises from a two-storey structure on the side containing the entrance, to a seven-storey one along the edge towards the south facing the lagoon.
Said to resemble the dimples of a golf ball - referencing the famous Riviera playground, the outer perforated layer of Orange Village's façade design is intended as a shading device that provides the glass envelope beneath it with a degree of protection from glare and solar gain. This double skin arrangement is said to possess a surface area of 40,000 sqm and is composed of 4,000 individual components, as per the African architecture practice. Stretches of landscaping dress the building's terraces, to further assist in climatic regulation. A discordant tension persists between the green portions of the stepped roof and the colder contemporary faces of the structure, making it partially stand out but also flow into its verdant surroundings. The building’s considerable scale also contributes to this perception, with its size said to be indicative of the company’s ambitions within the region of West Africa.
The ring-shaped layout is centred on a circular courtyard space, accessible from the entrance and subsequent atrium space. Responsible for furnishing the entire structure with natural light, this zone also cultivates links to local cultures, as the inner faces of the building looking into the lawn have been decorated with patterns commonly seen in Bògòlanfini, a traditional Malian textile adorned with geometric design motifs. Through the inclusion of this graphic design element along the façade overlooking the courtyard, the building positions itself as a contextually-sensitive intervention on the climatic, ecological, and cultural dimensions.
However, within the looped layout, a notable point of interest lies in the sheer distance between spaces due to the relatively narrow plan. In this regard, direct connectivity between opposing wings of the structure is only available on the ground floor, forcing users to walk large distances on the upper levels to move between spaces at alternate ends of the layout. Hence, although this ordering of spaces allows for abundant natural illumination throughout the structure by avoiding a deep plan, the result does pose a few inconveniences for users looking to navigate its various zones.
Containing a restaurant, gym, conference centre, as well as shared meeting and training rooms, the garden level on the ground floor is a hallmark of the project’s program which is said to be organised in a manner that promotes interaction. From the fourth floor onwards, each level boasts outdoor spaces with landscape design that allows employees to recharge in proximity to nature while enjoying panoramic views of the nearby landscape and its adjoining lagoon. Furthermore, the outdoor walkways looking into the courtyard also feature planters along their parapets, leaning into the office design's underlying green theme.
Beyond this, the interior design accommodates an array of individual offices and co-working spaces, as well as meeting rooms, offering a plethora of distinct work environments for employees. Smaller cubicles and isolation booths also extend options for greater privacy in certain sections of the plan. In terms of the aesthetic and materiality, the atrium features contemporary wood-panelled finishes, combined with rough cast exposed concrete as seen on the structure’s weighty cylindrical columns and certain balconies. The African architects elected to expose these finishes due to the quality of the concrete textures on show, which highlights a "duality in the building’s design language between authenticity and hyper-connectivity," as per Koffi & Diabaté Architectes.
Cementing this is the collection of artworks on the walls of the VIP lounges and management offices. This, alongside the identity symbols on the signage for each level, which have been drawn from the regions and cultural groups of Côte d'Ivoire, maintains links to local heritage at every level of the design. United with the numerous climatic design adaptations that feature throughout the design, Orange Village’s new headquarters is a progressive meditation on the future of office architecture in West African nations.
Name: Orange Village
Location: Riviera Golf, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Site Area: 18,181 sqm
Parking Area: 10,367 sqm
Planted Area: 9972 sqm
Office Space: 14,440 sqm
Year of Completion: 2022
Architect: Koffi & Diabaté Architectes