This Artist Residency In Accra By Adjaye Associates Rethinks Sustainable Design In More Ways Than One

  • Architect: Adjaye Associates
  • Client: Amoako Foundation
  • Size: 560 sqm / 6,030 sqft
  • General Contractor: RACEG
  • Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Synergy MEP Limited
  • Structural & Civil Engineer: ESPCO Ltd.
  • Landscape Architect: Kristodia Ntorinkansah Landscaping
  • Façade Consultant: Earth Structures
  • Lighting Consultant: Steensen Varming
  • Cost Consultant: SKOL
  • IT/AV/Security: Truedata

International architecture practice, Adjaye Associates, recently unveiled one of their latest projects, DOT Ateliers – an Artist Residency in Accra, Ghana. Designed in collaboration with Ghanaian painter and visual artist, Amoako Boafo, the artist residency reimagines the possibilities of sustainable design while serving as a vibrant hub for contemporary art.

Located within the Osu waterfront neighbourhood, DOT Ateliers is not just an architectural marvel but also a community-oriented destination that fosters creativity, innovation, and cultural exchange. Join us as we delve into the intricacies of this groundbreaking project and discover how it is shaping the future of artistic production and architectural innovation in Ghana.

Exterior view of DOT Ateliers building by Adjaye Associates.

“Artists bring so much value to the world and don’t ask for much in return except for support in the form of spaces and materials to create and freedom to experiment with their creativity and maybe recognition to crown it all. …Hopefully a little assistance from us all can help grow their talents, add
value to themselves and their works, thus allowing them to continue adding value to the world.”

Amoako Boafo, Artist and Founder of DOT Ateliers
Gallery space in DOT Ateliers.
Front view of DOT Ateliers.
The monolithic structure consists of three stacked volumes, visually delineated by concrete bands, which progressively increase in height to cater to the gallery’s public and artist
residency programs.

Dot Ateliers is a community-oriented and ecologically responsive destination that offers a robust space for artistic production. Located within the Osu waterfront neighborhood in Accra, this artist residency is conceived as an “architectural tool” for rethinking the possibilities of sustainable design. The monolithic three-story structure serves as an incubator, showroom, and gathering point that advances both the Ghanaian arts scene and architectural innovation.

Nestled within a midblock plot, a perforated wooden structure offers a tranquil entry from the busy street. Behind, a three-story structure rises from the earth. Designed as three stacked volumes, each floor expands in scale and height to accommodate internal programming, from the external garden, café, office, and library to the studio and gallery space. Enclosing a circulation spine, the structure utilizes a double envelope rammed earth façade which extends from the ground floor to the highest level, leveraging the natural insulating properties of local
earth to foster healthy environments, ecological sensitivity, and a low carbon footprint.

Maintaining visual connections to the emerging waterfront neighborhood, each level features sculpted apertures that frame views of both the ocean and immediate urban context. Encompassing the Accra context, including glimpses of the Atlantic Ocean and Osu Castle, the art produced and showcased within Dot Ateliers is in constant dialogue with the distinctiveness of its surroundings, reflecting the essence of Accra to a local and international audience.

Perforated facade of entry structure.
Light shines through the perforated façade of the entry structure.
Ground floor plan of DOT Ateliers by Adjaye Associates.
Ground floor plan – The residency program is supported by office and archival spaces with an arts and design library offering informal co-working space.
Rustic cafe interior with orange seats.
The cafe that spills out into a landscaped garden serves both gallery visitors and the general public, supporting the culinary arts in addition to the fine arts.
Staircase in DOT Atelier.
A staircase enclosed within the rammed earth double envelope ascends to each level, sculpting views into the first-floor studio and out toward the sea.

The double-skinned rammed earth enclosure not only adds to the aesthetic appeal but also contributes to sustainability, energy efficiency, and comfort. An air gap between the inhabited structure and the interior façade facilitates perimeter circulation, guiding visitors through the three floors. Moreover, this design feature helps mitigate heat gain by providing a buffer between the exposed face and the less exposed façade.

South-facing windows shaded by double rammed earth facade.
South-facing windows are shaded by the building’s double rammed earth façade, ensures unobstructed views while optimizing thermal regulation and natural light distribution.
Scenic window showing ocean and immediate urban context.
Each level features apertures that frame views, maintaining visual connections to both the ocean and the immediate urban context.
FIrst floor plan of DOT Ateliers by Adjaye Associates.
First floor plan – A studio space for the artist residency program.
Interior featuring white walls, expose concrete and rammed earth.
White walls, exposed concrete, rammed earth, and framed views of the city and waterfront create
diverse backdrops for the creative process
Timber utility space in DOT Ateliers.
Bespoke timber utility space complements the warm tones of the rammed earth.

The first floor, accessible by the rammed earth exterior staircase, hosts a studio for artistic production or a gallery space for exhibition by resident artists. The expansive four-meter-high white-wall space provides ample room for creating large format works, while a utility zone, equipped with sinks, storage, and restrooms, facilitates artistic endeavors. A north-facing window offers a view to the urban surroundings, while the south-facing window—softened by the double rammed earth façade—extends the view towards the waterfront. The open floor plan allows flexibility and can be bifurcated to accommodate multiple artists simultaneously.

Oculus bringing daylight into building from above.
An oculus at the entrance to the top floor bathes visitors in daylight, its illumination shifting subtly throughout the day.
North-facing sawtooth skylights in gallery.
The north-facing positioning of the sawtooth skylights ensures optimal gallery lighting while mitigating the heat from the tropical sun.
East-west section through DOT Ateliers building.
East-west Section.
Image of the exterior of DOT Ateliers by Adjaye Associates.
The solidity of the building mass provides shade for the exterior landscaped areas, which are utilized for events and relaxation, while simultaneously protecting the interior
from excessive heat and allowing ample indirect sunlight for artistic production

Referencing the angled roofs of neighboring structures, the top floor hosts a dedicated six-meter-high (19.5-foot-high) gallery. Characterized by a distinctive sawtooth design, the roof features north-facing skylights, bathing the gallery in natural diffused light.

Stairway in DOT Ateliers.
A double-envelope façade encloses an internal “circulation spine” that extends from
the ground level to the top floor
Featured rammed earth wall in interior of DOT Ateliers.
Featured rammed earth walls establish a material connection between the interior
and exterior spaces.
Office space in DOT Ateliers with rustic interior.
A glimpse into the office space reveals a bespoke timber design and art library,
creating an inviting and inspiring environment

DOT Ateliers offers a material transition between the hard and soft, exterior to interior, from the rammed earth and exposed concrete in the exterior public spaces, to the polished interior spaces composed of terrazzo, white plasterboard finish, and timber. Custom-designed furniture, including library desks, a café bar, and timber benches, enhances the overall design ethos. The locally sourced material palette underscores a commitment to ecological practice that honors a sense of place and relation to the surrounding context.

DOT Ateliers by Adjaye Associates showcases the potential of blending architecture with art. Its unique design and sustainable features set it apart in Accra’s architectural landscape. By offering a space for artists to work and showcase their creations, DOT Ateliers contributes to the local arts scene and promotes community engagement. This project highlights the positive impact architecture can have on creativity, sustainability, and community development.

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