The recently completed Swiss embassy in Ivory coast stems from an old 1960s building that once house a diplomat from Norway. It is a creative endeavour that much as it reflects the neighbourhood in Cocody that is stands in, still manages to breathe a fresh breath into embassy architecture, one that has most often been characterized by fortified buildings.
From the Architects:
The raw concrete of the construction echoes Abidjan's magnificent Modernist architectural heritage, built during the 1960s and 1970s, and harmonises with the original villa, also from this period," explained the Swiss architects. The power of the concrete and the sensuality of the form work timbers, imprinted in the concrete, are qualities this design seeks to celebrate and re-establish in the local Côte d'Ivoire context.
The new public facade is intended to reflect Switzerland's strength and diversity – the strength of a country that enjoys tremendous political and economic stability.
The pillars convey a sense of discipline and suggest security. Their slightly angled forms, with edges tilted towards the visitor, express an element of movement within the system, a welcoming generosity which accommodates diversity," they added. The vertical lines are offset by the slanting surfaces.
Inside, rows of coloured chairs are lined up around the glazed walls of the reception area, which frame views of the embassy grounds.There are four counters set into a wall made from alternating strips of mirror and timber at the back of the space.
These are dedicated to handing enquiries from Swiss citizens, including visa applications. The new counter wall plays a key role in the design – the interface between the consular staff and local citizens or Swiss residents," said the team. It evokes the exchanges between the two countries, both cultural and economic, by juxtaposing strips of Ivorian wood with mirrors reflecting the garden around the glazed counter desks.