Angola Central Highlands University / XV Studio

Angola Central Highlands University / XV Studio
Courtesy XV Studio

The Barcelona architecture firm XV Studio has shared with us their proposal for the new Angola Central Highlands University, where they were a part of the four team short list for the international competition. Proposal images and the architects description after the break.


Courtesy XV Studio

“Learning, a young boy enjoys making sand drawings with his fingers… these drawings called sona (a word they use today to refer to writing) appear on house walls painted by men, women, and children” (Bastin, 1984, p.315)

The fractal pattern of lusona, originates from the Sona patterns of the Chokwe people of northeast Angola. It is their standardized drawing in the sand. At the hunting camps, sitting around a fire or underneath the shade of trees, many conversations and generations of proverbs and fables, are expressed through beautiful and interesting sand drawings. The new university campus employs the idea and concept of this pattern as a basis for the master planning. The pattern represents an important role in transmitting and communicating knowledge and wisdom from one generation to the next. The pools of light represent knowledge and wisdom. They act as reference points of the pattern, and thus the master plan. They are more intense at the heart of the campus and become more diffuse to meet the surrounding environment. As we trace the lines of the other elements, the pattern accommodates the program, and its various measures and scales of the campus facilities and services.

These pools of light will provide places where thinkers, entrepreneurs, and innovators can come together to talk about positive change in sustainable development, technology, social networking, health, education, and environment. They are spaces that encourage students, and residents alike to meet. Where people can walk, sit, and interact within an area that offers seating, landscaping, and walkways. During the day, these small pocket open spaces are protected from sunlight, and during the night the sunlight is replaced by solar generated lights, the spaces act as rays of light in the darkness.

Wisdom Center

The underlying pattern generates a subconscious appreciation of the ordered way in which the campus buildings are organized with the informal flow of outside spaces and planned landscape elements between them. You can experience the sequence of changing directions, the orientation and variety of structures, from lightly covered walkways to enclosed spaces, whilst open and lit courtyards and gathering spaces connect with the flows and pools of water.


Courtesy XV Studio

The new UCHA master plan aims to understand the culture and traditions of Angola and Africa and represent them in an innovative and sustainable manner. The new university will become a new ecosystem of knowledge, living and experience that will show case the African culture and traditional Architecture, integrating the newest technologies, including environmental engineering that is completely independent from external resources. The University Campus will be a reference model for sustainable development in Africa, from project design to the program it contains. The design and layout will clearly demonstrate its commitment to meeting the challenge of sustainability in a changing global environment.

United at wisdom center, the entire campus fabric represents an overlapping of different layers of information, from the connections, to the orientation of volumes, and the streams that will collect water and irrigate the surrounding fields and flora. All the processes of input and output of the university are structured within the fabric and become part of an urban life; power, process, cleaning, recycling and redistribution. In keeping with this even distribution of economical, social and environment functions within the fabric, a balance emerges through time that that will help us live more sustainably.


Courtesy XV Studio

There are two main axes of the campus, Learning and Living, which intersect and congregate around the Wisdom center. They organize the access to the complex and the main circulations define the zones. From these main axes, the fractal scale diminishes, and the various programs overlap through a network of paths. The section of the main axes accommodates pedestrian circulation as well bicycle and service ways for a line of solar generated mini bus and service cars.



The different uses of the campus create a diversity of typologies that incorporate the specifics of the climate conditions and its necessities. Cross ventilation and intermediate spaces are considered when choosing the width of the buildings and the ways they interrelate. Like the paths and other elements of the campus, they illustrate a layer of information on a personalized fractal grid.

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Cite: Hank Jarz. "Angola Central Highlands University / XV Studio" 13 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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