National Archive of the Republic of South Sudan – Open Competition

MRA has been recently selected as one of the five finalists for the National Archive of The Republic of South Sudan, an international competition organized by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan with the support of UNOPS, UNESCO, and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The four main project objectives considered throughout the concept design were: The storage of important records, public and non-public
The restoration and preservation of records
Research and public access to records
The education of the general public
The main objective of this project, as stated in the project brief, was to create a secure place with state of the art technology for the preservation, storage and retrieval of important archival records while also providing public access space where the holdings could be made available for research, reference and public awareness. The concept design achieved this objective though careful consideration of the borders between public and private spaces and the creation of functional diagrams and circulation flow which work across and along this border.
The design was achieved by studying the program from the outside-in with consideration of topography, access, and the visual character of the building and from the inside-out with consideration of spatial qualities and functional arrangement. The building is designed as a single level building on a continuous accessible slab which works with the topography to allow for on-level access at the building’s front and a raised document receiving/utility area at the buildings rear.
Per the brief the public areas were arranged around a public atrium which was then enlarged with a courtyard, this was mirrored in the employee areas which also arranged around a courtyard. These two areas, open to the sky, allowed for thinner building volumes facilitating natural ventilation and lighting. The portion of the building between the two open areas contains the portions of the project which receive mechanical ventilation this creates a dense bar between the public and private areas. This bar is transected in two controlled areas by the secure employee access point and the staging point which provides a functional connection between the reading room and the archives.
The two main interior public spaces, the reading room and the auditorium are articulated by raised roof areas which provide character and identity to the building as seen in the landscape and from within the interior spaces themselves. These raised roofs further enhance the spaces by allowing diffuse day lighting and use of the stack effect for natural ventilation. The character of the remaining roof-scape is enhanced by deep eves and canted fascias which, limit solar heat gain while allowing daylight to lessen the lighting loads, enhance the natural ventilation, and further contribute to the character and identity of the building.
It is our intent to use low maintenance local materials wherever performance requirements and verifiable sustainable sourcing allow, including local concrete mixes, masonry, and wood. We propose to maximize water grey water reuse by incorporating a sewerage treatment plant and a grey water tank to support irrigation and flushing requirements. We intend to minimize power usage, lessening the buildings carbon footprint, though the use of daylight harvesting sensors on the lighting, and by tightly stacking the areas which require mechanical ventilation into a solid well insulated core with high ceilings which will minimize the cooling loads. These ventilated areas will be separated by a partially ventilated interstitial space to allow for gradated vapor and climate control. If economical based on a cost benefit analysis during the preliminary design phase we hope to use photovoltaics as the primary power source for the building.
From our initial design concept to what you see on these pages, there has been a constant focus on sustainability. Concerns regarding water and energy efficiency have shaped the building to harness prevailing winds for use in ventilation, oriented roof planes to better atenuate surface mounted solar panels to the path of the sun, arranged those roof planes to collect rain water, and extended them to provide shade and reduce solar heat gain. Interior spaces are designed to take advantage of stack ventilation. The areas that require more active temperature and humidity control are clustered and well insulated to provide better thermal efficiency. The regrading that the site will undergo is cut/fill neutral, and designed not to impact natural drainage or cause undue errosion of the surrounding landscape. Passive strategies like these combine with state-of-the-art technological solutions (see the concept diagram on page 18) including grey water reclamation, high efficiency air conditioning systems, solar panels, solar water heating, as well as high efficiency diesel generators for backup/emergency power all work in harmony to ensure the building shelters the archival material and its users to the highest possible standards.

Location: Juba, South Sudan