Indian Chancery, Borrowdale (Competition Entry)

Indian Chancery, Borrowdale (Competition Entry)





Description: In 2017 APS partnered up with Bruce Rowlands Architect, and were invited by the Indian High Commission in Zimbabwe to enter into a design competition for a new Chancery Complex in Borrowdale, Harare. By virtue of our combined experience, we were initially pre-qualified for entry, and later shortlisted with 4 other Architectural firms to present our ideas in person.

Challenge: The embassy owned a large residential plot near the Borrowdale Village shopping centre, and requested that it be developed into both a Chancery as well as a cultural and sporting amenity for its staff and invited guests. Our challenge was to plan this unique facility around the existing Chancellors residence and incorporate the wetland stream and flood plane running through the centre of the site. Our brief from the competition organisers was to acknowledge Indias rich cultural heritage and diversity, but to embrace its current and projected future strengths in a contemporary and forward looking way. 

Solution: The architectural concept refers strongly to the sacred Lotus Flower, which occupies a unique position in the art and mythology of ancient India and its associated religions. This auspicious symbol of Indian culture has come to symbolise both purity of mind body and soul, as well as generosity of wealth, prosperity and fortune. As such the Chancery building is separated in to three distinct sections, all pivoted about a central open air atrium. The building sits symmetrically on a courtyard platform in the shape of a flowering lotus, which is intern surrounded by water ponds and lush landscaping. The courtyard is covered in a rich tapestry of floor finishes, with inlaid text expounding on the 24 virtues of the Ashoka Chakra (Wheel of Law), as represented in the Indian National Flag. The buildings are designed in a modern tectonic of structural concrete slab and frame, with infill glass and steel to reflect Indias contemporary aspirations on the world stage, whilst the the gardens and terraces are intended as softer, more organic influence, with historical references to Indias rich history and cultural past. The angular timber louvres and fin walls of the multipurpose hall are primarily functional, screening harsh easterly and westerly direct sunlight, whilst maintaining views to the northern gardens, and architectural form is further animated by the ever changing shadows on the facades, as the sun arches through the sky. Flat green roofs, serve to insulate the concrete slabs from the harsh summer sun - As well as forming a platform for the solar panel array, they also contain seeding meadow grasses, and reclaimed ground cover to partially replace the habitat of nesting birds from the area.


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