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Dar es Salaam's variety show

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Manser Associates has designed new offices in Tanzania for the European Commission, the British High Commission and embassies for Germany and the Netherlands - all under the same curved roof.

Building will start in the New Year on a plot on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. High on the£8 million building's design agenda has been the complex variety of security arrangements needed for the different occupants. Just as important, however, has been the need to create a structure which is able to cope with 40degreesC- plus temperatures for most of the year, the 80 per cent-plus levels of humidity, and occasional but torrential downpours.

Project architect Stas Louca arranged the building around a central courtyard which aims to provide ventilation by thermal stack effect and differential wind pressure. Each embassy is located on a different floor, in two parallel rectangles connected by bridges, allowing for flexible spaces. The Dutch are on the top, the European Commission the bottom and the Germans and British on the two floors in between.

The climate has also dictated that the building is orientated along an east-west axis to protect the main facades from an almost vertical midday sun (the site is 7degrees south of the Equator), and there is a dense array of slatted louvres forming a brise-soleil. Further protection from the heat comes from the overhanging concrete roof-top canopy roof, topped up by air-conditioning plant.

Louca said some inspiration had come from the local architecture, predominantly old churches with curved concrete forms.

The ground floor will consist of shared areas and an entrance lobby, a small conference area and wcs. Outside there will be a car park for staff, landscaped gardens and a proposed sculpture garden as well as a separate consular office.

The client is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Overseas Estate Department. The structural and m&e engineer is bdp.

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