After nearly three decades of civil war, Angola is rising from the ashes, and Sapa Building System is taking part in the renewal.
Building cranes are going full speed in Angola’s capital city of Luanda as exports of diamonds, gold, and barrels of oil, help fuel the current construction boom. Angola has the fastest growing economy in Africa and many foreign companies, faced with financial downturns at home, are entering this lucrative market.
For Portuguese companies in particular, the former colony has become an attractive place to do business. Sapa Building System in Portugal has worked on many projects in Angola.
One of the most recent projects is the Sky Business building, currently under construction in Luanda. Sapa has supplied the aluminium curtain wall solution for the 25-storey, 100 meter-high office building. Located in the new Sky Center complex, it will share a common two-storey basement with a residential building.
Sapa was invited by Teixeira Duarte, the main contractor on the Sky Center project, to provide the curtain wall solution. Sapa and Teixeira Duarte had worked together on previous projects and the contractor turned to Sapa once again for its expertise and help.
“The challenge was to develop a solution in aluminium instead of steel, which was originally planned as the outside skin of the building,” says Sapa Marketing and Sales Manager Pedro Maçarico. Switching from steel to aluminium brought with it enormous cost savings, as it enabled a standard building process using concrete, thus eliminating the need for a complex and expensive steel structure for the building. At the same time, the aluminium structure had to maintain the same aesthetics as the original design in steel.
“Sapa was crucial to ‘saving’ our design,” says Luís Torgal, of Risco Architects, responsible for the building design. “When the client realized the steel structure would cost a lot more, we were really frightened. We could have ended up with a banal glass façade, but Sapa did a great job of finding solutions to keep things as close as possible to our original design.”
The resulting Elegance 52 curtain wall system with solar shading was adapted to meet the unique specifications of the building. “Sapa makes a big effort to conceive solutions that match our ideas,” Torgal adds. “They realize that architects can design intelligent stuff. Not all brand companies are so open to working with architects that want to change – or adapt – their products.”
Hanging the solar shades on the curtain wall put Sapa’s designers to the test. “At 40 centimeters deep and five centimeters wide, the structure was creating a ‘wind sail’ effect,” says Maçarico. A very strong and reliable anchoring device was required to prevent shades from breaking loose during a strong wind. “Another big challenge was figuring out how to stick the aluminium structure to the curtain wall and still enable maintenance and thermal insulation,” Maçarico adds.
Sapa’s fast and efficient work put the Sky Business building’s construction ahead of other buildings within the same project. Completing projects in as short a time as possible is extremely important, especially in Angola where the cost of living is high even for foreigners, says Maçarico. “Everything costs ten times more in Angola than in Europe, and when you have to relocate an installation team, you want to shorten the process to keep the costs down as much as possible.”
Sapa has worked on many projects in Angola, collaborating closely with architects and contractors to tailor-make solutions that suit their needs. “Working in Angola can be hard as so much can go wrong,” Maçarico says. “But it helps that Sapa has experience from working in Angola and knowledge when it comes to logistics, maintenance, assembly, and more.”