New 450 Chamber for Parliament …expected to be ready in 3 years

Sir David Adjaye (in ash kaftan) explains a point about the design to leadership of Parliament

A proposed new 450 chamber block for Ghana’s Parliament is expected to be ready by 2022, approximately 36 months, B&FT understands.

The lead architect for the project, Sir David Frank Adjaye, indicated that work on the project will most likely start sometime this year.

“We are hoping the project will sometime this year start on site. Parliament, government has committed to it in the budget that was revealed; that has already happened and they are seeking additional funding.

“But we know we have been given the direction to prepare starting sometime this year to be able to allow this to go on site; if we are able to start this year, it should be completed within the next three years,” he told B&FT.

Presenting an artist’s impression of the design to the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Aaron Oquaye, when he paid a courtesy call on him in Accra, he stated that his company – Adjaye Associates – is committed to executing a modern Ghanaian Parliamentary monument.

Sir David explained the reasons behind the design: “The thinking of the project is to see if we can make an architectural building that encapsulates the DNA of our Ghanaian democracy – which looks back at the chieftaincy arrangements that we have had in Ghana.

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“The project is inspired by a sculpture that is in Parliament now (an object called Tekro ntumi endzena), which is an incredible object of four people interlocked together becoming one body; and the meaning is that there can never be any one party in Ghana, it is always about the multiple – people coming together to make democracy, that is the thinking behind the project.”

He added that the building represents a manifestation of that idea – four pillars interconnected to make a body, which is parliament; four heads that rise above parliament and makes a gathering space for the public, parliamentarians to see the grounds – where the country is.

The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, stated that government is committed to the project and is already exploring external funds to shore-up the funding.

He also confirmed that the President, Akufo-Addo will be present to cut the sod for the project when the date is firmed-up.

Though he did not put a timeline on the cost for commencement of the project, he pointed out that it will be decided soon.

Additionally, he maintained that the parliamentary project going forward will be integrated into upcoming projects – such as the marine drive, National Cathedral and other monumental projects in the country.

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The new facility, Prof. Ocquaye suggested, will make way for the old chamber to be converted into a museum or archive to hold everything that has got to do with Ghana’s history; and a parliamentary library that could serve academic institutions and people wishing to go into politics.

Three companies, including a foreign firm, tendered bids to the Parliamentary Service Board, but Adjaye Associates was settled on and approved by the Institute of Engineers.

Majority Leader Osei-Kyei-Mensah Bonsu expressed his excitement about the designs, but urged the company to factor-in other features like glass curtains, widening of the gap between the majority and minority leaders sitting area, among others.

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, also encouraged the company to ensure the building is ICT-compliant to accommodate future fibre-optics expansion, as well as prayer-rooms and other essential services that will be required in the building.

When completed, the 450-seat capacity new chamber will replace the present 275-seat capacity chamber, which was reconfigured in 2013 to accommodate more Members of Parliament (MPs).

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