When they founded Work Architecture Company (WORKac), in an apartment facing a brick wall in 2003, Dan Wood and Amale Andraos had two jobs lined up: a bathroom renovation and a doghouse. A decade later, the firm is immersed in what looks like a dream commission: a huge circular conference center in which the government of Gabon—led by President Ali Bongo Ondimba—will host the next Summit of the African Union.
The 213,000-square-foot building, dubbed L’Assemblée Radieuse, is as formally complex as anything by OMA, where both Wood and Andraos, who are married, worked before starting their New York–based firm. But it also bears direct connections to the Gabon landscape, reflecting a strong environmental focus in the couple’s work. The building, Wood says, “is our answer to the question: How do you represent emerging progressive Africa to the world without relying on nostalgia or clichés?”