United States Embassies

  • Location

    Lome, Togo / Accra, Ghana

  • Client

    United States Department of State

  • Team

    Designed with SOM, Washington D.C. as Studio Head / Senior Designer

  • Size


The design for the US Embassies in Togo and Ghana develops the US Government’s Standard Embassy Design (SED) to include site organisational principles and an architectural response to local climate.

Historically the SED was based on the design for a northern latitude building with little sun shading or protection from tropical rain.  Following an extensive study of the climatic and environmental attributes of each of the cities, a proposal was made to redesign the buildings to incorporate long horizontal roofs providing much needed protection from equatorial sun and rain.  This was proposed within the fixed budget through value engineering of imported stone to be replaced with a lesser amount of local stone and artwork over render.

The SED comprises a number of separate buildings with special functional relationships to each other and the extents of the site however, strong principles governing their orientation or architectural relationships within the compound or to the city beyond were not stipulated.  These projects were used to develop a series of principles that add a significant garden area between the main Embassy building and other utilitarian buildings, and uses the surrounding city grids and cardinal points as a key references, such that the Embassies become part of the overall city fabric and minimse the impacts of solar gains.  Views and sight lines within the compounds also contribute to a more engaging environment for the residents and staff.

These organisational principles are understood to now be incorporated into the base SED documentation for all new Embassies of this type.