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The Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library | Photo source Adjaye Associates

South African presidential library to be built sustainably with ancient techniques

Architecture & Design

The Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library will use locally sourced mud and portions of timber cladding harvested from native wood species

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Spotted: Founded in 2000 by British-Ghanian architect Sir David Adjaye, architecture studio Adjaye Associates has designed the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library, which will be built in Johannesburg. The building will pay homage to South Africa’s second post-apartheid president and aims to celebrate ancient and contemporary African history.

An eight-domed structure, built to resemble traditional African granaries, will be punctured by a geometric aperture at roof level, in order to create different lighting conditions. Alongside the library, the building will also house a research centre and museum, as well as seminar rooms, a reading room, an auditorium and temporary exhibition spaces.

The 5,400 square metre Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library will be built using locally sourced mud in an attempt to reduce its carbon footprint, along with portions of timber cladding harvested from native wood species, and terrazzo flooring crafted from local stone. To further minimise the building’s carbon emission when in use, Adjaye Associates plans for it to utilise rooftop photo-voltaic solar panels to generate electricity. A geothermal heating system is also planned and will work in tandem with the thermal mass of the rammed earth walls, to regulate the building’s temperature.

Once complete, the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library will comprise of two levels, one of which will be concealed below ground. On the other hand, the upper level will be housed within the rammed-earth domed structures.

Written By: Serafina Basciano

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