SAPP Has New Headquarters In Harare

THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN POWER POOL (SAPP) IS A REGIONAL BODY ESTABLISHED TO SHARE ELECTRICAL POWER RESOURCES ACROSS SOUTHERN AFRICA. MEMBERS INCLUDE ANGOLA, BOTSWANA, DRC, MALAWI, MOZAMBIQUE, LESOTHO, NAMIBIA, ESWATINI, SOUTH AFRICA, TANZANIA, ZAMBIA AND ZIMBABWE. IT INCLUDES ALL THE SADC MEMBER STATES ON THE CONTINENT BUT EXCLUDES MADAGASCAR, MAURITIUS, COMOROS AND THE SEYCHELLES. SAPP WAS ESTABLISHED BY THE SIGNING OF AN INTER-GOVERNMENTAL MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING RATIFIED IN AUGUST 1995 AT THE SADC SUMMIT HELD IN KEMPTON PARK, SOUTH AFRICA

The SAPP established the Short-Term Energy Market in April 2001. From January 2004 SAPP started the development of a competitive electricity market for the SADC region. The ministers responsible for energy in the SADC region signed the Revised Inter-Governmental Memorandum of Understanding on23 February 2006.The day-ahead market (DAM) was established in December 2009. In 2015 the SAPP trading platform was upgraded with Forward Physical Markets and the Intra Day Market.

The SAPP’s vision is to be a fully integrated, competitive energy market and a provider of sustainable energy solutions for the SADC region and beyond. The SAPP coordinates the planning and operation of the electric power system among member utilities and provides a forum for regional solutions to electric energy problems. The headquarters for the SAPP are situated in Harare at 24 Golden Stairs Road in Emerald Hill. You can see the flags of all the participating countries flying outside on the street frontage – a very colourful and impressive sight.

Up until recently the committee and all the staff in various departments were accommodated in an old house on the site and in various rambling and disconnected outbuildings. When, in 2019, the existing structures became too cramped, disjointed and awkward the SAPP approached Mura Tarabuku from award winning local firm Pearce McComish Tarabuku Architects to design their new headquarters. Their brief to him was fairly simple – they wanted the building to be modern, comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and imposing enough for an important regional organisation. Above all it needed to be functional, efficient and secure. While much of the overall look of the structure was left to Tarabuku the clients did stipulate that the building needed to accommodate up to 50 staff members in a mix of open plan offices and private offices for senior staff members.

They also specified a kind of spatial hierarchy with senior staff obviously having the larger offices. There also needed to be a staff kitchenette/dining room, two boardrooms, a secure server room for the IT department as well as space for inverters and batteries, storage and archiving rooms and a reception area. On the exterior there needed to be adequate parking for staff and visitors and some open garden space. The property needed to accommodate the ZESA servitude for the sub-station at the back of the property, a caretaker’s cottage and a bank of water tanks. Some architects would have designed a simple linear structure of two or three storeys with the offices set out along passages and walkways. Tarabuku has instead designed a rectangular structure of two storeys with a large central atrium or courtyard. All the offices have doors and windows opening onto the atrium as well as windows on the outside skin of the building so there’s good cross ventilation, although the clients have requested air-con in some offices.

The courtyard is covered by a high Chromadek roof with large translucent skylights and the roof is further broken by a double slope so there are high clerestory windows above the eastern side of the atrium. Where there are no translucent sheets the roof is insulated with Alububble and there are whirly-bird air vents for hot air to escape. Most of the partition walls facing on to the courtyard are frosted glass so there’s loads of natural light and a generous feeling of space, while the frosting provides a semblance of privacy. There’s a substantial void between the first floor office ceilings and the high roof which acts as an insulation space creating less need for heating and cooling and it provides some sound insulation during summer rain storms.

The courtyard also helps to cut down on the noise from the busy Golden Stairs Road. Inside the building there is almost no traffic noise at all. The north and south facing walls of the courtyard are mostly glass set in aluminium frames so there’s some indirect light. The huge glass walls were supplied and fitted by Almin Industries together with City Glass, while the aluminium and glass shop fitting was supplied by Architectural Aluminium. The east and west facing facades have deep overhangs and pressed metal sun louvres to filter direct sunlight and prevent the offices overheating. Tarabuku has designed the structure so it’s really like two buildings in one. The outer skin is similar to a warehouse structure with steel uprights supporting the roof and the sun louvres.

The steel structure is clearly visible inside and out so there’s a kind of honesty in the way it’s all been put together with nothing hidden away or disguised. Beneath and within the warehouse type skeleton is an independent building of concrete, facebrick, aluminium and glass nestling under the overarching umbrella which shelters the interior from the weather. The roof, built by Super Structures (Pvt) Ltd, was completed before the brick and concrete building underneath.

On the ground floor there’s a tiled walkway around the perimeter of the interior garden – like a passageway but open to the atrium and covered by the first-floor walkway. Two steel staircases, with locally sourced black granite treads, lead up to the first floor. The staircase and the first-floor bannisters were supplied and fitted by Kingson Engineering and M & S Steel Fabricators. Two cantilevered sections break up the simple exterior and add interior space.

One section extends over the entrance to the reception creating a covered portico and supplying office space above. The first-floor meeting room also has a cantilevered extension creating extra interior space, providing great views of the garden and partially sheltering the main boardroom underneath on the ground floor.

The building is quite secure as there’s only one entrance – at the reception, and governed by a sophisticated biometric system. There is another emergency fire escape exit at the opposite end of the building. Tarabuku has set the building on the site so it’s as far back from the road as possible with a large garden space and a water feature in front, ample paved parking on one side and the ZESA servitude on the other side with its own separate gate entrance. There’s even space at the back of the building for a bank of water tanks and a sophisticated generator and inverter system for emergencies to ensure uninterrupted power supply.

The building was completed within the specified 12 month time frame – although there was a 6 month hiatus caused by the pandemic, so the overall time scale was 18 months. During the construction process the SAPP moved briefly to temporary offices in Eastgate. With Pearce McComish Tarabuku acting as project managers and Twenty First Century Contractors as the main contractors the building was also completed slightly under budget – something seldom heard of these days!

Tarabuku has created an elegant and functional building that ticks all the right boxes for the client. It looks particularly imposing at night with interior and exterior lighting highlighting the architectural details. It’s also an innovative way of designing and constructing a large office complex – while it’s a big building with a very high roof the interior spaces are scaled down and softened by the interior courtyard. Hopefully we The louvres were supplied by M & S Steel Fabricators. The position of the louvres on the east side has been carefully calculated to block direct sunlight after 10am while still allowing views out to the garden.

On the west side the louvres come down much lower to provide shelter from the hot afternoon sun as well as to partially screen the view of the boundary wall.’ll see this kind of structure more often in the future. Tarabuku has set the building on the site so it’s as far back from the road as possible with a large garden space and a water feature in front, ample paved parking on one side and the ZESA servitude on the other side with its own separate gate entrance. There’s even space at the back of the building for a bank of water tanks and a sophisticated generator and inverter system for emergencies to ensure uninterrupted power supply.

The building was completed within the specified 12 month time frame – although there was a 6 month hiatus caused by the pandemic, so the overall time scale was 18 months. During the construction process the SAPP moved briefly to temporary offices in Eastgate. With Pearce McComish Tarabuku acting as project managers and Twenty First Century Contractors as the main contractors the building was also completed slightly under budget – something seldom heard of these days!

Tarabuku has created an elegant and functional building that ticks all the right boxes for the client. It looks particularly imposing at night with interior and exterior lighting highlighting the architectural details. It’s also an innovative way of designing and constructing a large office complex – while it’s a big building with a very high roof the interior spaces are scaled down and softened by the interior courtyard. Hopefully we’ll see this kind of structure more often in the future.


 


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