Windhoek, Khomas Region

Phase 1: Earthworks completed

National Botanical Research Institute

This new wing is to house four large atmosphere-controlled herbarium halls for Namibia’s national plant specimen archive, specimen preparation facilities, laboratories, research offices and independent offices for SASSCAL (the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management). Dictated by the programme and the steep and restricted site, a linear layout places the halls in an eastern excavated enfilade below SASSCAL’s two floors, along a central triple-volume atrium with the NBRI facilities along the west. The atrium creates internal transparency between the research spaces which overlook the atrium floor where specimens are consulted by staff and visitors.

A pedestrian ramp combines with a trellised planting screen to shade the semi-transparent west façade which is the public face of the building and frames a new triangular garden courtyard with the existing double-storey post-modern style building. Designed by Katrin Vaatz in the 1980’s , the extension will resolve some of the access and public-private access problems of the original. A following phase of renovations will convert the original circular herbarium into a multi-level library and public information centre for the activities of the Botanical Society of Namibia.