Burnishing the Zambian copper belt and returning lustre to Lusaka

Burnishing the Zambian copper belt and returning lustre to Lusaka

Tsogo Sun Garden Court hotel in Kitwe.

Cape Town architect designs two important new Zambian buildings

Two architectural projects worth a total US$126 million are major elements in the urban renewal of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, as well as Kitwe, on the country’s famous copper belt.

Designed by Cape Town architect Robert Silke, both involve major hotels. The Lusaka project is a mid-town skyscraper.

Society House in Lusaka

Society House in Lusaka, which is now nearing completion as a landmark on the city’s skyline, includes a three-star Hilton Garden Inn, and in Kitwe, construction commenced on the R365m Tsogo Sun Garden Court hotel in November.

The Tsogo Sun project is being undertaken by the Mukuba Development Company, and finance has been sourced through the Zambian National Pension Scheme Authority, NAPSA. Robert Silke and Partners are the lead architects and interior designers, in association with Chazya Chileshe of Kitwe.

The hotels in both centres are part of a groundswell in hospitality development, that according to published statistics from a W Hospitality group survey earlier this year, reflects a 42.1% growth in sub-Saharan Africa’s hotel rooms compared with 2015.

Silke said the new 130-room Garden Court is intended for business hospitality and as accommodation for longer-term residents working in Kitwe. The hotel will cover a wide range of functions including serving as a high-end conference facility.

“It will be a 3½ star full service hotel reflecting five-star aspirations. Fortunately Tsogo Sun wants its hotels to reflect the spirit of place, and is therefore refreshingly adaptable with its design standards. The brief was to do the best we can do within the budget, and make the hotel appeal to everyone – from businessmen right up to the president. It was by no means an oppressive brief.”

Mark Boyd, Tsogo Sun’s Development Director, Hotels, said the project was a good fit for his company, and would be an excellent product with the right brand. The building supported the level of the hospitality offering and would suit Tsogo Sun’s Garden Court operation. With two hotels in Zambia – Tsogo Sun also operates the Ridgeway in Lusaka – he said he was particularly pleased with the location of their latest hotel, as Kitwe was his birthplace and he was looking forward to re-acquainting himself with the copper belt.

The hotel is modern with elements of Silke’s signature futurist features expressed in materials that include natural stone, sourced locally. Its outdoor areas take full advantage of the views towards the nearby Kitwe Stream.

“Designing a hotel on the copper belt is very different from designing one in Cape Town, where the visitors are expected to spend a great deal of their time out of their rooms and visiting local attractions,” says Silke. “In Kitwe, residents will spend more of their time at the hotel, which will also be somewhat of a community hub, so we have catered for this with vast outdoor covered terraces for gatherings, events and leisure.

“Hotels are the centre of all life in an African metropolis and ours will be a major feature of the Kitwe social and business landscape,” said Silke.

Society House, designed while Robert Silke was in his previous partnership at LKA in Cape Town, before forming his new partnership in 2016, is a modern tower that fulfils Lusaka’s international aspirations, and the copper glass in its fenestration reflects national identity.

“The Cyclopean form of the building is almost Far Eastern but at the same time, African, paying homage to the traditional fertility totem. Accentuating the African mood of the building, views from its windows over Lusaka are sepia-tinted through the copper glass.”

The project was commissioned by the Zambian National Building Society and was also financed by NAPSA.

“Both buildings are urban regeneration projects, in that Society House is a US$100m investment in Lusaka’s inner city, and Garden Court Kitwe is a US$26m investment in Zambia’s hitherto neglected copper belt,” said Silke.