In a bold move meant to transform the future and fate of young people in the Bié province of Angola, the non-profit, SHAREcircle, awarded the commission of a master plan for a new university to U.S.-based Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company, architects and planners. The plan, which will include the design of a first academic building for Angola Central Highlands University, was the result of an international design competition. More images and project description after the break.
“We are very pleased to announce our selection of Hanbury Evans to work with us on this important effort. All the firms competing for the opportunity showed us high quality concepts, but we felt the Hanbury Evans team best captured the spirit of our vision,” said Guerra Freitas, SHAREcircle executive director and chair of the Angola University’s Board of Trustees.
Angola, a country devastated by 30 years of civil war, has managed to rebuild primary, secondary, and tertiary schools in the seven-year armistice, but the demand for higher education is enormous and unprecedented. The government and people of Angola are eager to train leaders to position the country for a sustainable future and to train a global workforce for the international companies currently operating there, as well as those planning operations. This university project will increase the availability and accessibility of higher education for the Bié people for “regeneration, rebirth and renewal.”
The university project is being sponsored by SHAREcircle, a humanitarian relief agency working in countries emerging from conflicts, particularly Angola. The organization, headquartered in Evanston, Ill., will seek funding for the initiative from foundations, private corporations and governments, with a goal of beginning work within the next year on a 12-square-mile tract of land provided by the Bié government.
University stakeholders earnestly seek to marry what is best in Angolan (African) culture, its ancient educational system, and modern architectural design. As a result, the Hanbury Evans team invested deeply in understanding the challenges facing the country as well as cultural references. For example, the fractal pattern layout of the campus plan is an interpretation of indigenous village planning principles. “The more we learned about the country and the people, the more we became passionate about Angola Central Highlands University. This will be a life-changing campus for thousands of people,” said Steven W. Gift, Hanbury Evans design principal.
As a teaching tool, the campus will promote dialog, collaboration, sustainability, and interdisciplinary behavior. At the heart of the campus a Wisdom Center will serve as community beacon, embodying the University mission and oral traditions of learning. A water course will run through the campus and Wisdom Center physically connecting the campus to its larger site and symbolically transcending the past, the present and the future. The concept represents many opportunities to elevate the campus to become a beacon of light for the future of the Angolan people.
Hanbury Evans specializes in architecture and planning for colleges and universities, having worked on more than 120 campuses in the United States and abroad. Architects from the firm’s offices in Norfolk, Va., and Tampa, Fla., will be involved with the Angola project.