The project is defined by the superposition of the campus146; two primary programmatic functions: residential and institutional. The two zones establish an expanding bi-linear arrangement for the campus. The institutional functions are anchored to the main circulation axis in the north corner of the site. The residential zone is established in relationship to the housing development on the northeast end of the site. Guided by the different zoning plans for the immediate quadrants surrounding the southern end of the site, the institutional and residential bands cross over in the center, forming the heart of the campus 150; the Nelson Mandela Place.
The two zoning bands are characterized by their separate grid systems. The institutional grid begins at the northern point of the site and is based upon property lines, which also correspond to the prevailing wind directions in Abuja. The residential grid follows the cardinal directions. Future expansion, which will occur based on the analysis of interdisciplinary needs, will be guided by the gridlines. The grids establish the canvas upon which the buildings and services are inserted. Development of the site will begin at its center and radiate outwards along the crossing axes.
The Nelson Mandela Place is the palm of the campus146; hand. Here the campus is opened up and allowed to breathe. The natural vegetation and the recreation/sporting/cultural facilities permeate through the residential and institutional zones, further enhancing the feeling of reflection and introspection. The park wraps around the promontory to the north and flows down across the site into the Place. The Place is the home of the site146;s principal communal building. Rising ten storeys above the ground, it defines the Place146;s permeable northwest boundary. This landmark is meant to provide a point of orientation for the campus and contains the bulk of AIST146;s communal functions: the digital library, the classroom center, the careers office and the language centre. Almost a community in itself, the core building acts as an incubator in its own right. The student centre is connected to the core building 150; an extending arm creating a necessary link between the Place and the student146;s residential area down the hill to the south.
The contact of the sky with the ground plays volumetrically upon the spaces. By influencing the expansion and contraction of the two dimensional grids, different size voids are created. Where the grid is loose courtyards are created. Where the grid is tight, only punctual openings are permitted. These voids are enveloped by the same material as the ground plane, appearing tectonically to have been forced or depressed into the volumes.