• Aon Insurance Headquarters / SPASM Design Architects

Architects: SPASM Design Architects  
Location: Dar es Salaam,  Tanzania
Project Team: Sangeeta Merchant, Sanjay Parab, Maithili Joshi & Sanjeev Panjabi
Interior Décor: SPASM Design Architects
Project Year: 2013
Photographer: Muzu Suleimanji & Sanjeev Panjabi
Website: www.spasmindia.com

Engineers: Pendharkar Associates
Contractors: Holtan E.A. Ltd
Area: 2591.0 sqm

India sits geographically as one of the countries that benefited greatly from the influx of great world architects who sort to spread their mantra and get their work on the ground up. It is perhaps with this stimulus that SPASM Design takes off with a building that reminds you of an early Lecorbusier, a vibrant beguiling clean lines open spaces mentality that is so clean and profusely traditionalist that it begs the question...have they solved the case? Have they cracked the algorithm of traditional vs modern?

Tanzania sits as majorly Coastal archipelago in its Dar Es Salaam city positioning and its temperatures are all the more high and humid. And SPASM recognizes with sweeping tapered roofing that exposes just enough to be provocative but still maintains a level of ambivalence in its structure. The concrete is pristine and time has certainly done it justice. In a society where the architectural elites are perhaps condemning the pastiche ideology of foreign architecture importation, SPASM have managed to remain relevant to the region yet still agreeable to the traditional mantra of Dar Es Salaam.

From the Architect

Sited in a quiet, low-rise, residential neighborhood of Dar-es-Salaam, an emerging financial hub on the coast of Tanzania, East Africa, the AON Insurance Headquarters is nestled within a lovely garden acreage with existing acacias, gulmohurs, frangipanis and Erica palms. The brief prompted the placement of three off-shutter concrete cabinets, to incorporate storage of records. These cabinets form the principal enclosure and allow for framed vistas of the surrounding garden, continuing and enhancing the spatial construct of the garden.

Over these cabinets, levitates a giant, blade-thin canopy. It is a contemporary interpretation of the indigenous ‘makuti’ or thatch roofs. The glazed upper storey detaches the solid walls from the light canopy and affords limitless views over the tree tops. The windows can be kept open for most part of the year, reducing energy loads, allowing fresh cool breeze to penetrate the building, apart from offering abundant protection from heavy rains of the tropics. It modulates glare-free, reflected light to create a soothing work environment and establishes a strong connection to the outside.

A water body immediately outside the principal meeting rooms invigorates the surrounds with the soft sound of flowing water and acts as a black reflective plane.From within the building, one can sense the passage of time as the building absorbs the slightest changes in the light quality and the shifting of the shadows of trees, in the outside garden environment. Movement within the building and occupation of each office amplifies the intrinsic connection with the surrounding vegetation. The building maintains an honest simplicity in its make up and in its materiality, fostering the comfort of its inhabitants and in the hope of promoting productivity.

  • British High Commission Tanzania / Manser Practice

  • Of all the embassies that the Manser Practice has done for the British Council, the Tanzanian one perhaps serves as an impeccable source of patronage for the office, a fusion of conclusive metaphors and ambivalent facial expressions to a building that invites a composition of sustainable outlo...

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