ICT Support Unit

Location: Honiara, Solomon Islands
Client: Ministry Finance and Treasury
Status: Under Construction

 

JCA were engaged to undertake the design and documentation of a proposed new 2 storey Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Office building located along Lengakiki Ridge overlooking Honiara Town.  The new facility aims to provide uninterrupted business service co-ordination and ICT operational support to government ministries. Importantly its location was strategically selected in order to mitigate the impact and risk from natural disasters and civil unrest. With the current ICT Support Unit scattered in various locations and the main office located within a dated multi-storey office building the ability to consolidate and centralise these essential services were considered a priority by the Solomon Islands Government. With a northern aspect the elevated position provides views to the ocean and neighbouring green valley to the South.  The design sought to maximise access to these views. The upper level benefits from views in both directions. Included within the design was the creation of a large communal balcony space capable of serving both as a functional space but also a staff lunch / workroom. Due to the limited site area available, this space replaces the traditional leaf house so typical in the region.

The elevated site and general desire to maximise natural light has in turn emphasised the need for sun protection to the building. This is provided through large overhangs and vertical sun blades for solar control reducing the need for internal blinds, as well as reducing heat loads. This approach has proven enormously beneficial with recent projects in Honiara completed by JCA showing clear cost savings through reduced energy consumption. With the cost of electricity high (and unreliable), the ICTSU has been designed to reduce the buildings annual operational costs whilst also serving as a sustainable example of contemporary modern tropical architecture. The strategic importance of the ITCSU required undertaking planning for additional site services including high level security, power generators and radio communications tower and vehicle movement.  These along with the array of self sufficient services infrastructure have allowed the building to retain a level of independence and self reliance. This has added to the ability for the building to remain operational during times of emergency. The ICT office building enables the growth of the Information Technology staff, through an open plan layout with shared meeting rooms and resource areas on each level. The long rectangular office plan with operable louvres provides opportunity for natural cross ventilation during mechanical failure or power failure. The facility also accommodates training rooms for outside visitors, with the main circulation designed as a natural ventilated breezeway linking staff areas with an elevated outdoor area and amenities, kitchen, stairs and toilets. The ICT Support Unit remains a very simple, well considered architectural design that has sensitively responded to the issues of its site whilst presenting a very modern outcome that  demonstrates a successful continuation of a long line of sustainable government architecture in the region.