Aon Insurance Headquarters / SPASM Design Architects

© Courtesy of

Architects: SPASM Design Architects
Location: Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
Design Team: Sangeeta Merchant, Sanjay Parab, Maithili Joshi & Sanjeev Panjabi
Contractors: Holtan E.A. Ltd
Engineers: Pendharkar Associates
Client: SKAN Properties Limited
Site Area: 2,591 sqm
Total Built Area: 820 sqm
Photographs: Muzu Suleimanji & Sanjeev Panjabi

Sited in a quiet, low-rise, residential neighborhood of Dar-es-Salaam, an emerging financial hub on the coast of Tanzania, East Africa, the AON Insurance Headquarters is nestled within a lovely garden acreage with existing acacias, gulmohurs, frangipanis and Erica palms.

ground floor plan

The brief prompted the placement of three off-shutter cabinets, to incorporate storage of records. These cabinets form the principal enclosure and allow for framed vistas of the surrounding garden, continuing and enhancing the spatial construct of the garden.

© Courtesy of SPASM Design Architects

Over these cabinets, levitates a giant, blade-thin canopy. It is a contemporary interpretation of the indigenous ‘makuti’ or thatch roofs.
The glazed upper storey detaches the solid walls from the light canopy and affords limitless views over the tree tops. The windows can be kept open for most part of the year, reducing energy loads, allowing fresh cool breeze to penetrate the building, apart from offering abundant protection from heavy rains of the tropics. It modulates glare-free, reflected light to create a soothing work environment and establishes a strong connection to the outside.

© Courtesy of SPASM Design Architects

A water body immediately outside the principal meeting rooms invigorates the surrounds with the soft sound of flowing water and acts as a black reflective plane.

From within the building, one can sense the passage of time as the building absorbs the slightest changes in the light quality and the shifting of the shadows of trees, in the outside garden environment. Movement within the building and occupation of each office amplifies the intrinsic connection with the surrounding vegetation.

© Courtesy of SPASM Design Architects

The building maintains an honest simplicity in its make up and in its materiality, fostering the comfort of its inhabitants and in the hope of promoting productivity.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Aon Insurance Headquarters / SPASM Design Architects" 01 Aug 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 19 Apr 2015. <>
  • Jubair Siddeeque

    You say this is an institutional building. All the Interior spaces and architecture has got a residential feel. Very contemporary and appreciable. Good work Spasm. Good Archdaily.

  • up_today_arch

    This roof is most interesting thing in this project…

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  • Adam

    I feel like the roof is insufficient. The building feels to me as if someone put a piece of paper atop a cinder block. The weight is all wrong. Not that it’s a bad building it just feels off (boy I’m all feely today).

    • Axe

      I felt exactly the same. The roof drew my attention immediately because it’s so thin. But then it made me think that it doesn’t quite fit into the picture. A thin roof is something that should add to its context.

      It did remind me of Herzog & De Meuron’s parking in Miami. That used the same thin layers idea, but pulls it off much better.

  • Jessica Williams

    Nice and Appreciable work