11 June 2012

Uganda: Mapeera House - a Landmark in Banking

Photo: New Vision
Mapeera House.

Sitting at a majestic 19 floors and beaming with such radiance, the Mapeera House can be seen from all over the City of Kampala, giving a fresh face and new hope to its inhabitants. The building is a memory of the beloved Rev. Fr Siméon Lourdel (1853 -1890), also referred to in French as Mon Pere commonly known as Mapeera. He was the first Catholic priest to set foot in Uganda in 1879.

Having been born to a humble background, to a farmer father and a gentle yet energetic mother, Rev. Fr Siméon Lourdel was a gentle hard worker himself, and the perfect role model for the work of Centenary Bank.

Mapeera House is a testimony of years of careful planning and diligence in financial solutions of highest quality to millions of ordinary Ugandans by Centenary Bank over the past 25 years and indeed the wider catholic community.

Many like Titus, now in his mid-thirties, were only but toddlers when the journey to raise money for the $40m (sh100b) project kicked off in the early 1990's. "Mapeera House looks incredible! One of the finest buildings I have seen in the City in the last two decades. I'm sure it will be able withstand the test of time," he says with a lot of contentment in his voice.

So far it has taken about four years from September 2007 to present and Mapeera house architects Messrs Ssentoogo and Partners have completed the first and most important phase of the building.


"Overall the building has about 19 levels; we have three basements mainly for car parking. Then we have four levels of podium which is the lower part of the building," says William Henry Ssentoogo, the chief architect of the Mapeera house. "On the ground floor we have a beautiful banking hall, and then we have offices for staff on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors, "The 4th floor has a staff canteen and the rest is an office tower of about 12 storeys which will be completed in the second phase," he says. Ssentoogo points out that building has 17,000 square meters of office and an entire 16,000 square meters of car parking spaces within the three basement floors ensuring that there is a parking space for every two of over a thousand occupants.

Dr.Simon Kagugube, the Executive Director Centenary Bank says that the creation of the 100 car parking spaces will also cater for the banks customers, many of whom could not find a safe place to leave their cars at the Entebbe road office. "There aren't enough parking spaces for customers at Entebbe branch but at the Mapeera House, we will make sufficient provisions for customers.

"We hope that this will work out reasonably better than what has been happening before," he explains. Everything at Mapeera house has been done in a bigger and better fashion than the country is accustomed to. For instance, the interior designs where outsourced to a Thai company, ensuring that every inch of the building is teeming with beauty. Unlike previous branches, Centenary Bank headquarters will have 24 teller counters and 16 ATMs at the state-of-the-art banking hall.

Next to these will be two teller counters for bulky cash and another four areas for corporate banking. The corporate banking facility will be very unique with VIP lounges, and entertainment facilities and all under Central air-conditioning which gives it quite an amicable environment. "It is a modern building, very unique in its architecture. It will be one of the most the beautifully completed buildings in Kampala," Ssentoogo says about the Mapeera house. "...but the most important aspect is that it is located in the Central Business District of the City which is the main area of the economy."In business, location can be everything, and this is something that Centenary bank has utilised well to its advantage.

The location of Mapeera house at the busy Burton Street next to the beehive of activity at the Kampala City square will enable the bank massively grow its customer base to record numbers in a such a short time. The building has a double curtain walling to cut off the fumes, noise and dust from the busy streets so the inside is quite cool and nice. To top it all, the building uses natural lighting on all sides which gives it a natural feel from the inside.

In order to achieve this, Messrs Ssentoogo and partners had to work closely with Roko Construction to build the House, Multi Consultants, for all the electrical and mechanical fittings, and JB Africa Consult, a firm owned by Katikkiro JB Walusimbi handled for all the civil and structural works.

Dudley Kasibante & Partners the quantity surveyors ensured that the cost of the building remained within budget alongside Vincent Owiti (the project architect) and Emmanuel Kayanja, a young vibrant architect.

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