Volta River Authority head office extension - Accra

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Power or fuel for that matter, has been proved to be increasingly indispensable over the years since prehistoric man first discovered the usefulness of power source or fire, in that case, to help him do a lot of things like cooking and warming himself, to name a few. With time, man has never rested on his oars but rather grown more adventurous in his search for other sources of power and other sources of fuel to help him satisfy his demand and curiosity for industrialization. He did not find them out only to leave them as they are, but also found out and established relationships existing among them, how they could be converted from one form to another and how they could be conserved. Power, which within this context could also be referred to as energy (scientifically, power is simply the rate at which energy is used) is largely obtained in the form of heat by burning fuel sources like petroleum and firewood. But as part of the great discoveries made by man, heat can now be obtained from another form of energy called ELECTRICITY. Basically, Electrical Energy is obtained by a mere movement of electrons within a material which of course would need to be a metal. Electrons are negatively charged particles located within the atom of any material. But in metallic substances, these electrons could be found floating freely within the molecular structure and therefore are susceptible to movement at the least change in potential difference (or voltage) between any two points within the metal. Movement or flow of electrons to obtain electrical energy has also been realized to have been achieved when the metal object is moved within a magnetic field. This is the basic principle underlying the modus operandi of electrical generators. In these generators, movement of the metal within the magnetic field is achieved by using petrol or diesel operated motor. Now, for the generation of large volumes of electrical power by a generator for the use of a whole nation like Ghana, other ways of moving the metal in the magnetic field has been achieved. That includes water (or Hydro). Water dropped from a height is capable of causing movement of a metal coil within a field and hence generating electricity called Hydro-Electric power. In Ghana this has been provided by damming the Volta River at a gorge located at Akosombo and a required water head obtained behind the dam to achieve the optimum dropping height of the water to generate six turbines located beneath the dam. This has been a successful project and it shall forever remain one of the greatest feats ever recorded by Ghana in particular and Black Africa in general. But a singular honour and gratitude should be given, to the Architect of the scheme, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, whose dream and vision is what has been manifested and realized today. The sole administrator of the Akosombo Dam is the Volta River Authority, upon whom the responsibility has been placed to ensure that Hydro-electric power is obtained all the time, without any interruptions, aside unforeseen natural disasters. The Volta River Authority, in its twenty-eight years of operation has so far lived up to expectation, according to the principles upon which it was established. But with the growth of the population of Ghana, there has been an ever-increasing demand on the VRA to extend the Akosombo grid further into the hitherto undeveloped rural areas to satisfy the power needs of the people for residential, industrial and other purposes. To be able to meet the needs of the people at all times, and also to relieve the Akosombo Dam of the entire load, the VRA has built the Kpong Dam to help supplement the Akosombo Dam Power output. Aside this VRA has made studies into possibilities of providing other dams at various parts of the country. The amount of water in these Rivers depends on the rainfall pattern in the country for every single year. There have been times that a change in the rainfall pattern caused the volume of water in the Volta River to be reduced drastically, affecting the water head level at the dam in Akosombo and resulting in a power curtailment exercise by VRA in order to save the dam. (1983). VP.A, upon realising the effects the unpredictable changes in the rainfall pattern could create in the nation, has rightly thought of, and commenced the construction of a thermal-electric plant at Aboadze near Takoradi in the Western Region of Ghana,. The main source of fuel is gas oil or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). The operation of the plant shall have no bearing on the weather or vice-versa. The kinds of expansion that VRA has made in terms of infrastructure on the ground since its inception, as catalogued above, has been achieved with a corresponding increase in the numerical strength of its staff. It has increased by leaps and bounds. Now this has brought about the need for more office spaces, especially at its Head Office in Accra which has been rendered far inadequate by the large staff number. VRA is therefore forced to go into rented premises to house some of its staff, resulting in very uneconomic use of vehicles and loss of precious working time.
A design thesis dissertation presented at the faculty of environmental and development studies in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the post-graduate diploma in architecture, 1994