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ISSUE 65(FREE READ)

FBC Holdings Limited selects design for their new home

FBC Holdings Limited is currently made up of several subsidiaries, all operating from different sites across Harare. The head office is located along Nelson Mandela Street in the middle of the Harare central business district, where the organisation is being affected by large volumes of human and vehicular traffic. It is in this vein that FBC Holdings Limited decided to relocate to a new location in Borrowdale, where it is quieter and more conducive for business. To ensure that they had the best design to build from, FBC decided to hold an architectural competition and they approached the Institute of Architects of Zimbabwe (IAZ) with a design brief.

Speaking on behalf of FBC Holdings Limited, brand manager Roy Nyakunuwa explained FBC’s motivation for holding a competition to pick an architect for their new establishment, “One of our values as FBC Holdings is “Integrity.” As such, running the design competition in partnership with the Institute of Architects of Zimbabwe, was aimed at creating a level playing field for ensuring that every participant had an equal chance of winning.” Mr Nyakunuwa further added how the competition was also held with the clear objective of making sure the evaluation process of prospective design consultants was done in a credible, transparent, fair and corruption free manner, “As the FBC Group, we absolutely appreciate how coming up with a feasible architectural design is not an easy task.

It requires a great investment of financial resources, creative brains, quality decision making skills, time and high-tech design systems. It is against this background that we adopted the competition approach in order to reward, and appreciate creative designers or consultants for time out of their equally pressing projects and assignments in order to work on our project.” As part of their brief, FBC Holdings required the architects to come up with designs which were not only creative and iconic but also reflected FBC Holdings’ ethos by adhering to safe and sustainable practices. The building was required to cater for security, natural lighting, and disability access while also taking zonal restrictions into consideration.

The actual brief was as follows: FBC Holdings would like to set the standard of excellence in terms of innovation and creativity through this design. The technical design should provide a smart and sustainable (green) building with prime aesthetics of a digital and tech-savvy brand. Issues of safety, security, natural lighting and ventilation are of paramount importance. Disabled access and green energy are to be taken into consideration. The design should be modern, providing an historical heritage as well as the Pan African ambitions of the group.

Select specifications called for:

  • Adequate parking facilities, with clear demarcations for executive’s parking and visitor’s parking
  • One main access point, with multiple emergency exit points
  • Landscape design matching the quality of the building with landscape furniture incorporated
  • A pleasant and inviting atmosphere
  • Safe custody facilities
  • Accomodation of FBC’s diverse divisions, subsidiaries and departments
  • Internet of Things (IoT) optimisation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Consideration of maintenance and future operations
  • Allowance for business expansion
  • Allowance for digital banking
  • Allowance for employee wellness activities
  • Allowance for employees’ preschool and after-school child care facilities.

Additionally, the zoning laws of Harare restricted the buildings to three storeys as the site is located in Borrowdale’s commercial zone. The brief was quite modern, as architects had to design a wellness center for FBC employees as well as take disability access into consideration. In a statement given to Structure & Design, FBC brand manager Roy Nyakunuwa explained that the FBC Group is a responsible corporate citizen with a clearly defined Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy. The group’s CSR policy is a broad concept which addresses a wide spectrum of significant aspects such as human rights, health and safety, environmental factors and employees’ welfare. The FBC Group treats all its stakeholders, employees and contractors fairly and respects their dignity, well-being and diversity.

“In light of the above, creating a conducive and safe working environment for our employees and all stakeholders with special requirements, such as the disabled, is at the heart of our business’s value-chain processes and design principles for the new Head Office. In the same vein, as a stakeholder-driven organisation, we also have a crucial role to play towards ensuring that our valued clients, employees and business partners enjoy uninterrupted access to a safe and business-friendly environment when accessing our brick and mortar premises. The design of our new head office takes into account the group’s Human Resources Policy, Health & Safety Policy, Ethical Standards Policy and many other policies for guaranteeing the safety and ease of access by our diverse stakeholders such as the disabled,” added Mr. Nyakunuwa.

The competition was open to architects and firms registered with the Architect’s Council of Zimbabwe and the Institute of Architects of Zimbabwe (IAZ). Each Architect was only allowed to submit one design and the entries were encrypted to ensure a transparent process. Veteran architect, Gil Shepherd was called upon to oversee the competition as the professional advisor to the competition. Designs were submitted electronically to the IAZ on the 31st of August 2018 at which time adjudication commenced. The adjudication team comprised a seasoned Architect Peter Rich from South Africa (who was the head of the team), Retired Architect Iftikar Ahmed and Retired Architect Mike Clinton.

The twenty-four designs submitted for the competition were exhibited at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe for six days prior to the announcement of the award, which took place at an elegant event. All the participants’ entries were available for members of the public to view each design concept. In his opening remarks, IAZ President, Architect Emiel Murwira commended FBC Holdings for exhibiting good governance and transparency by using a competition to choose a design for their new headquarters. He further commented that regulated competitions foster high creativity and that they should be valued for their ability to bring out the diversity of Zimbabwe’s architectural design skills rather than for their monetary value only. He further stated that it is not about fancy renders and exciting colours but the key considerations outlined in the brief and adjudication criteria. He urged all Architects to celebrate with the winner to be announced during the awards night. Architect Murwira elaborated that the competition was unique to others in that it ran for a

In second place was Bruno Azevedo (Entry 107) who is an independent architect. He won a cash prize of $20, 000.00. His first priority in addressing the design brief was addressing the accommodation schedule, which was fairly complex (different functions of the building had to be grouped in different areas). He tackled this by splitting the different link and group areas into levels, areas and subzones. The Pan African aesthetic was derived as a miniature of the African continent and Zimbabwe. The architect used a river ecosystem as a metaphor for financial management, with river-like patterns bearing tribal connotations being used as the basis of the interior organisation and carrying through to the design of subspaces, furniture, light fittings and skylights.short time given the scale of the design brief. Whilst all architects performed well, he emphasized that the winning design would be the one which best answered questions posed by the design brief. He also pointed out that the IAZ celebrates with the winner as the winning concept represents the architectural fraternity as a whole. After opening remarks by IAZ and FBC representatives, all twentyfour participants were awarded a certificate of participation.

In no specific order, the twenty-four architects were:

• BRUNO AZEVEDO

• METAMORPHOSIS DESIGN

• BRAIN MUZWEMBIRI

• MUKAMBA ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE

• MANYARA DESIGN

• TAPIWA MANDITSERA

• STUDIO FIVE ARCHITECT

• KUREBGASEKA ARCHITECTURE

• PEARCE McCOMISH & TARABUKU ARCHITECTS

• AMANDIZ • NYAMBUYA AND ASSOCIATE

• MUGEDEZA TAJ ARCHITECT

• GURA AND ASSOCIATE ARCHITECT

• STUDIO ARTS Inc

• DANIEL MANDISHONA ARCHITECT

• ARCHI-CRAFT

• ARCHITRAVE DESIGN GROUP

• RATIDZO MUSEKWA

• FLEET ARCHITECTURE

• AWOLAJA A

• THE STONE BEATTIE STUDIO

• TEDA

• ARCHITECTURAL AND PLANNING STUDIO

• CHIKUMBA CHRISTOPHER

Thereafter, the three winning designs were announced. Architectural Planning Studio (Entry 106) won the third prize, with a cash prize of $10,000.00. In their acceptance speech, they expressed gratitude to the competition organisers and thanked their team members. Their concept was based on the idea of community banking as any successful bank relies on the interrelationships between the bank, its customers and its employees. The practice was represented by the principals, Graham Cochrane and Geoff Fox. “A group of people within a community suggests a framework within which specific relationships can take place. Our architectural approach to this building is to provide spaces, both internal and external, for these relationships to be fostered and cultivated as best possible. We believe that an effective professional environment that is highly community focussed and interactive will ultimately result in a healthier, happier and more effective organisation.” Open spaces were included in their concept as open plan spaces and public places for meeting and greeting are an integral part of Pan-African culture.

Their design also included modern reimaginings of local craftsmanship. One example is the use of different facades on the building, with the northern facade employing perforated stainless steel ribbons reminiscent of weaving baskets and the southern facade (facing Borrowdale Road), being made up of suspended chain link and brushed stainless steel diamond textile whose geometry and patterns were inspired by local fabric craftsmen. The complex was designed as two main buildings, with an interactive “valley” running between the two of them, allowing interconnection. The two buildings also allow for varied access. With the southern building housing the centre for retail banking and the northern building being more private, allowing access to only the bank’s staff as it houses staff training facilities, eating facilities and some offices.

The interior spaces were kept modern, adaptable and clean by using neutral colours and natural textures with fine detailing. The banking hall, however, was designed to be the showpiece of the headquarters, as the public face of the building and was designed to be visible from Borrowdale Road. In addition to aesthetic aspects, FBC Holdings Limited also specified several requirements with regards to inclusivity and sustainability. Architectural Planning Studio responded by providing lifts and ramps for both customers and staff members to ensure inclusivity. They ensured sustainability by strategically implementing Solar PV, natural lighting, hybrid natural lighting and ventilation air conditioning, and water systems and recycling. One great innovation was the splitting of the water system into a potable water system for drinking purposes and a grey water (recycled) system for other uses. By using low flow fittings water consumption can be reduced by 50%, whilst ensuring good quality water as the grey water is still treated through a series of water tanks prior to reuse. The Architectural Planning Studio team consisted of seven members – Geoff Fox and Graham Cochrane who were the principal architects, Tapiwa Mativenga and Nyasha Vengesayi (architectural assistants), Graham Williams, the landscape design and Olly French who was the interior design consultant.

In second place was Bruno Azevedo (Entry 107) who is an independent architect. He won a cash prize of $20, 000.00. His first priority in addressing the design brief was addressing the accommodation schedule, which was fairly complex (different functions of the building had to be grouped in different areas). He tackled this by splitting the different link and group areas into levels, areas and subzones. The Pan African aesthetic was derived as a miniature of the African continent and Zimbabwe. The architect used a river ecosystem as a metaphor for financial management, with river-like patterns bearing tribal connotations being used as the basis of the interior organisation and carrying through to the design of subspaces, furniture, light fittings and skylights.

All three finalists engaged with the design brief in fascinating ways and the winning concept by Gura and Associates will soon be implemented by FBC Holdings Limited. “After going through the necessary approval processes with the responsible city authorities and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), we expect to commence the project in the medium term and complete within a reasonable period of time. We endeavor to give the FBC brand a revolutionalised stature in the market through this project and we are dedicated to complete all the construction work in the best possible time so that we give our employees a better working environment which will definitely improve productivity.

The new premises will also guarantee our esteemed clients adequate security and ease of access, plenty of parking spaces and more convenience away from the increasing pressure associated with the central business district,” said Roy Nyakunuwa, on behalf of FBC Holdings. Hopefully, the recent competition will be a catalyst for other architectural competitions, resulting in a greater variety of buildings across the nation. Delegates were treated with a cocktail dinner during the interactive networking session at closure before a vote of thanks to mark the end of the awards night by the Vice President of IAZ, Ratidzo Musekwa.


Text by Tariro Ndoro and Gura & Associates,

Renderings Supplied by IAZ and Gura & Associates

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