Akwaba Lagoon, Abidjan
CATEGORY: Masterplanning
PROJECT:  Akwaba Lagoon, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivore
SIZE: 396,300 m2

We believe that Akwaba Lagoon should be more than just a part of an instant city without a past, built for business and made for speed, as tends to be the case with airport-city development. West Africa has millennia long history represented by a multitude of ethnic groups, ceremonies and festivals, music, and arts & crafts that we will use as a foundation to build upon.

The spatial concept of Akwaba Lagoon draws upon the importance of wax textiles; the highly colourful fabric that is loaded with significance and even the patterns are a means of communication within itself.

The patterns found within African textiles indicate a level of sophistication unmatched in western societies. The messages are as complex as the motifs, with certain fabrics symbolising notions as varied as gender equality, forgiveness, unity, political status, or even important historical events. These textiles bear the sign of every aspect of social life and have become in integral part of African Culture. The strip woven “Kente” cloths are among the most well known of African textile tradition.

Therefore, we conceive our site as long, linear textile strips and an evolution of West African pattern symbolism in built, habitable form. We envision this pattern of built environment will communicate the identity of Akwaba Lagoon as a productive living and working district that brings delight to inhabitants and visitors alike. This approach is especially relevant as our site will be viewed from travellers above and this built-pattern will be a recognisable element to the Abidjan city-region.

Upon entering Akwaba Lagoon off Boulevard d’Aeroport at the main entrance, we see the bustling heart of the development. With a small marina, a hard-scaped open square containing vendors selling the catch-of-the-day, and small restaurants serving local cuisine, the square becomes the collective destination at the intersection between air, land and sea.

The major avenue that runs uninterrupted through the site performs as a spine that services the high-density development along the waterfront. We have designed a building type that allows vehicular and pedestrian access from the avenue but pushes all pedestrian and commercial life to the promenade that runs the length of the development. Here inhabitants can stroll along the lagoon, meet with friends, sit in the sun at a boardwalk restaurant, or simply participate in collective life.

We envision a neighbourhood comprised of 6+ story buildings with a designed orientation to offer views over the lagoon or towards the Atlantic. The unique Y-shaped building serviced by a central atrium allows us to provide a multi-functional and multi-programmable envelope. This designed flexibility allows us to distribute multiple housing types through the building, the ability to support commercial office functions, or even incorporate hotel facilities. This is a way of designing flexibility into the neighbourhood and reducing risk by accommodating as many functions as local market forces may dictate.

The buildings are arranged above a covered landscape podium that provides the dual function of concealing the vehicular parking while providing commercial real-estate along the lagoon promenade as well as incorporating high-quality landscape amenities above.
Building at this density allows us to free up land to provide over six-hectares of amenity space in the form of gardens, sports fields, recreational areas, playgrounds, and nature reserves. These are all connected via pedestrian paths that meander between buildings and provide an alternate environment to showcase a variety of local fauna.