Man, security, diplomacy, dignity, respect, nationhood, the state, separation of powers, union and freedom...these are the words that impregnate the mind at the sight of the royal dutch embassy in Maputo, Mozambique. It is a clean fresh take at embassy design, only rivaled by the British embassies across Africa. The clean crisp lines, suave white washed walls and timber struts that dot the perimeter of the establishment to the inner sanctums of the embassy are but a few of the poetic yet diplomatic intonations that the embassy design offers.
The characteristic timber has been used towards maintaining an authentic dutch feel, perhaps form the earlier years of Aalto and Saarinen exposure, and the ever blossoming rubble, sand and green garden courtyards help create a certain ambiance that only can be experienced on setting foot within the premises. There is a certain battle, subtle, harmonious yet highly evident between the old dutch architecture and the contemporary wave of design and this has been well expressed within the design throughout, even unto the space age like board rooms that sit the dignitaries.
There are private corridors and public halls all separated without making the average visitor feel like an intruder, and without making the dignitary feel any less dignified, and there is glass and there is clean plain walls and wide open hallways...and the voids and careful balance at that makes the entire experience worthwhile.
The Netherlands Embassy in Mozambique is located in Maputo. The building has been situated on the edges of a rectangular site and looks at an open garden surrounded by light columns and filled with flamboyant trees generating a natural roof. The embassy faces South, allowing light but not heat, as climatological considerations played a large part in the design.
The building and enclosing walls are conceived as a rough concrete monolith from which a part has been removed to create an opening and space for the garden. The embassy lies on the other side of the filigree steel frame of a veranda, a motif derived from the Portuguese colonial architecture.
The building consists of a rectangular volume with offices on the garden side, facilities in a central zone, and a two-storey circulation zone along the south wall. The rough concrete of the exterior recurs in the floor and roof, and a wooden box lies as an independent element.
This complex serves one of South Africa’s most important missions abroad being the seat of the African Union and provides for both bilateral and multi-lateral functions. This is one building that presents an image of Africa in the modern times. It is not romantic about the past or futile in de...