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The Kingsway Tower, designed by South African architectural firm SAOTA, aspires to introduce new architectural ideas to Lagos while also acting as a catalyst for positive change in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
The Kingsway Tower in Ikoyi, Lagos, is a notable mixed-use structure built by South African architects, SAOTA. It rises from Nigeria’s economic heartland.The tower began as a way to introduce new architectural ideas to Lagos, but it has now grown to reflect on Lagos’ importance as an uncompromisingly world-class market in the global context, with a special focus on its quality construction and execution.
The tower’s boldly projected and billowing appearance is a subtle nod to the traditional boats’ square sails that float along the Lagos Lagoon. The design evokes the sensation of a calm breeze as it expertly weaves the city’s climatic characteristics. The canopy sweeps around a two-level shop platform, offering protection at street level and raising invitingly towards the entrance of the famous Alfred Rewane Road corner, with a characteristic “woven” pattern on the bottom, reminiscent of fabric caught in the breeze.
SAOTA Director Greg Truen, the project’s primary architect, states, “We wanted to design a structure that made direct allusions to the fact that it was in Lagos, with a façade that responded to the local climatic conditions.”
SAOTA used the chance to incorporate folding, perforated aluminium screens on the tower’s exterior façade, which are principally responsible for the building’s iconic personality, in contrast to the conventional commercial model of Lagos, which uses concrete slabs and curtain wall facades.The screens on the exterior façade are layered, providing a porous, permeable façade with depth and a sculptural character that plays with shadows internally as the layers shift with the sun.
Kingsway Tower is packed with publicly accessible spaces at the street level facade below the curved canopy due to its prominent location along the corner of Glover and Alfred Rewane Roads. At night, LED lighting enhances the perception of openness and accessibility, as well as its aesthetic effect, by linking it meaningfully to its setting and creating a highly open visual connection to the street and sidewalk, as well as providing a presence.
In Lagos, most buildings show blank walls and gates to the street, disconnecting them from their surroundings and offering little or nothing to improve the streetscape and shared public space around them. SAOTA thinks that by taking this first step forward, they will be able to effect positive change while also contributing to the urban fabric surrounding the tower.
SAOTA, on the other hand, took great care to avoid any direct or literal metaphorical equivalencies. Rather than emphasising overt cultural influences, this made the facade more relevant to the climate and economy in terms of aesthetics, practicality, and performance. The façade treatment is more like a shopfront than a curtain wall, in contrast to typical European and American modernist buildings. This guaranteed that the aluminium screen contributes to the building’s passive performance by lowering solar load, as well as allowing for easier cleaning and maintenance around the perimeter.
“Another climatic response was to place the structure with the short facades facing east-west and the long facades facing north and south,” Truen explains. “In Lagos, the sun rises quickly, so you’re dealing with a heat load that’s coming at you from a very vertical angle.” “The overhangs, shading devices, and north-south elevations all work together extremely well,” Truen explains.
The lobby’s interior architecture and design are inspired by the canopy’s diagonal grid-like aspect. The interior lobby treatment, like the façade, adds additional intricacy and intrigue as you approach it. The striking cone-shaped canopy above the reception desk has an impact from outside the building, attracting attention from passers-by. Faceted timber triangular components folded along a diagonal axis convey this in the panelling.
All of the joinery was found and manufactured locally thanks to the sculptural approach and minimal patterning, as well as the use of easily available materials.
Because of Lagos’ irregular power supply and poor municipal utilities such as water and sewage, SAOTA required to include passive energy solutions that decreased the demand for air conditioning while also providing ample natural illumination. They also ensured that all necessary services, including as water supply and treatment, backup power generation, and sewage treatment, are readily available on site.
Lagos’ fast growth, with a population of over 20 million people and rising, puts unique demands on the city and its architecture. In this context, the method has the support of Kingsway Towers’ first tenant, Microsoft, a global software and technology business.By addressing the city’s particular demands and problems while expressing both local and global confidence, Kingsway Tower intends to launch a new architectural narrative.