Architect: Pierre Fakhoury - Photo credit: PFO
"The awning that will cap the Ministry of Finance looks like a bird getting ready to take off. It is important that this resemblance should not become reality! " This is how Patrick Philippon, design engineer at Eiffel Construction métallique, describes the new Ministry project in Libreville. The state of Gabon hired Pierre Fakhoury (the architect who designed Yamoussoukro basilica and is currently finishing rehabilitation of Abidjan's famous Ivory Hotel in Ivory Coast) to design a modern and functional complex to accommodate Ministry of Finance staff and the Minister himself. The architect let his imagination run free and designed an aerated project with pure lines. "There are actually three buildings, above which there is an enormous 45 m high 100 m x 100 m awning", says Isabelle Metais, Project Engineer at Eiffel Construction métallique. It is certainly magnificent, provided that it stays in place. Although winds are not particularly strong on the Gabon coast, there is no question of taking the slightest risk. The awning is in an open environment not far from the sea, and large uplift and drag forces that are difficult to estimate on paper could be applied to it. Dynamic forces and vibrations of the very slender support columns also need to be measured. Eiffel Construction métallique, that assists the architect in the preliminary design of the steel structure, asked CSTB to carry out a wind expertise.