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Name: Mick Pearce

Date of birth: 02.06. 38

Place of birth: Harare Zimbabwe

Professional education: Diploma of Architecture (Hons), Architectural Association, London 1962 RIBA, MIAZ.



Professional Experience:

Michael Pearce has been working in Zimbabwe and Zambia for 33 years. His experience covers a wide range from building in remote parts of Central Africa to converting old buildings in north east England and large-scale city developments in Harare, Zimbabwe. Committed to appropriate and responsive architecture, Michael Pearce has specialised in the development of buildings which have low maintenance, low capital and running costs and renewable energy systems of environmental control. The most recent work involves developing passive control systems in small-scale single storey buildings as well as large-scale commercial multi-storey buildings using building methods which rely even less on imported materials, technologies or human resources. He has been closely involved in the development of rammed earth construction for low cost housing in remote locations in Zimbabwe where transport and energy are the largest costs in producing buildings. He was also directly responsible for the design and supervision of Eastgate in Harare.

The following passage was taken from The 2003 Prince Claus Award presented to Mick Pearce on the 10 Dec 2003

"Mick Pearce is among the most ingenious critical tropicalist architects practising today. He has had to be. Like Tai Kheng Soon of Malaysia, he is one of the rare architects who are pursuing a solution to these problems in the tropics. Like them, he has designed a large-scale urban project that successfully adapts sophisticated technologies to minimise economic and ecological cost, adapting the global to the identity of the particular region. In Zimbabwe, in the early 1980s, Mick Pearce produced a series of buildings: five major commercial office blocks, university buildings, a major hospital, a Hindu temple and an international school.

His most seminal project is Eastgate, a mixed office complex and shopping mall covering half a city block in the business centre of Harare. What makes it unique is that it is not only ventilated, cooled and heated entirely through natural means, but it works. Its ventilation costs one-tenth that of a comparable air-conditioned building and it uses 35 percent less energy than six conventional buildings in Harare combined. In the first five years alone, the building saved its owner $3.5 million in energy costs.

One needs a considerable leap of design imagination to model a building on a termite mound, or more precisely, on the termite mounds that dot the Zimbabwean savannah. In a rare case of architectural bionicsbionics being the field in which principles from living organisms are transferred into engineering--this is what Mick Pearce has done at Eastgate. Small wonder he became so fascinated with termites--they , too, happen to be ingenious because they have to be. They can only survive if their environment has a constant temperature of exactly 30 to 31 degrees. As temperatures in Zimbabwe fluctuate from 35 degrees at night to 104 degrees during the day, termites dig a kind of breeze-catcher at the base of their mound which cools the air by means of chambers carved out of the wet mud below, and sends hot air out through a flue to the top. They constantly vary this construction by alternatively opening up new tunnels and blocking others to regulate the heat and humidity within the mound.

Based on the termite mound analogy, Mick Pearce's Eastgate building uses the mass of the building as insulation and the diurnal temperature swings outside to keep its interior uniformly cool. With Ove Arup & Partners, he devised an air-change schedule that is significantly more efficient than other climate-controlled buildings in the area. Fans suck fresh air from the atrium, blow it upstairs through hollow spaces under the floors and from there into each office through baseboard vents. As it rises and warms, it is drawn out through 48 round brick funnels. During cool summer nights, big fans send air through the building seven times an hour to chill the hollow floors. By day, smaller fans blow two changes of air an hour through the building. As a result, the air is fresh, much more so tha from an air conditioner which recycles 30 percent of the air that passes through it.

The building is an astonishing example of what one might call Zimbabweanist architecture, not only in its locally inspired bionic approach to design but also in the way it is rooted in local culture. With its heavy masonry walls on the exterior of the building, it is an expression of the traditional native stone masonry architecture from which Zimbabwe derives its name. On the inside, it is the expression of industrial machine architecture brought in by European immigrants. As one would expect from a graduate of the AA and a student of the technology-enthusiasts Reyner Banham and Cedric Price, the interior atrium has a high-tech gleam, with its delicately detailed steel-lattice girders, walkways suspended on tendons, bridges, and filigreed tiaras atop the main entrances to the complex. This project is the very symbol of diversity at work in creating a better world.

With this building, Mick Pearce has tossed the norms of architectural correctness out of the window and looked to nature and local cultures for a solution to sustainability. This goes to show that local culture and the realities of the natural geo-climatic region have much to teach those who are willing to reject standardised ready-made solutions. His building stands as a defence of diversity in the face of the homogenising forces of globalised practice, but also as a defence against a backward-looking refusal to engage with the modern world.

Mick Pearce has probably moved further away, than any other architect in the world today, from the lip service the profession usually gives to enhancing sustainability and diversity. His great achievement has been to come up with a truly innovative and successful alternative to the all-glass high-rise that tropical countries tend to import from the North. Perhaps it is no coincidence that such an architect has wide experience of working in the tropics, where ecological, economic and political crises are so pressing and so serious that they demand nothing less than ingenious solutions, not only for the benefit of the local population but for pASSAGEpost/neo-colonising world of the North does not tend to look to the post-colonial world for groundbreaking ideas, but Mick Pearce has come up with some brilliant ones..." By Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis.



  • CH2 MUNICIPAL OFFICES IN MELBOURNE 2002-2006: Lead design architect for Melbourne City Council's new municipal offices in Melbourne's central business district. CH2 (Council House Two) is the name given to this already well-known project. This building follows the same principles at those established at Eastgate: the architecture and its visual expression should respond to the natural, socio-cultural and economic environment of its location in the same way that an ecosystem in nature is embedded in its site. The metaphor for Eastgate was the termitary, the metaphor for CH2 is the tree. CH2 is a mixed development with retail on the ground floor and with nine floors of offices above. Ch2 was completed in March 2006.
  • THEATRE AT HARARE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 2001-2002: The Harare International School Arts Centre. This comprises a 500-seat theatre with an drama and music school attached. This building is the first of its kind to be cooled with a rock-store system in combination with three wind-driven turbines. Both the rock store and the turbine, were developed in consultation with Ove Arup, at the school and both have achieved international acclaim.
  • CENTRE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AT ZOLDA, BELGIUM 1998-2002: The turbines will be used in Zolda Belgium on another project for which Pearce's office is mainly responsible.
  • EASTGATE DEVELOPMENT HARARE 1991-1996: Eastgate Development, Harare for City Centre Properties (Pvt) Ltd. Lead Designer and Architect for this 55 000m2 mixed-use city centre development, using passive environmental systems.
  • CHINHOY HOSPITAL ZIMBABWE 1990-1995: Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital, Chinhoyi. In charge of inception, briefing and design for this new hospital including site planning, housing and the Training School.
  • LAND MANAGEMENT FACULTY, UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE 1986: Land Management Building, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zimbabwe. Project Architect for all stages of work on a mixed-use campus building: including laboratories, lecture halls and offices.
  • STUDENTS RESIDENCE, UNIVERSITY OF ZAMBIA 1968: Students' Residences, University of Zambia, Lusaka. Project Architect.
  • MILK PROCESSING FACTORY ZAMBIA 1969-1971: Milk Processing Factory, Lusaka for the Dairy Marketing Board.
  • THREE RURAL SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ZAMBIA 1968-1970: Rural Secondary Schools in Choma, Chama and Chongwe, Zambia: Designer and Project Architect.
  • TRADES TRAINING INSTITUTE AT KABWE AND LIVINGSTONE IN ZAMBIA 1966-1968: This experience fits the project under reference as these Trades training Institutes were large tirtery training colledges which were residential and included residential units for a student population of 300.

Information about my approach to my work

I have become increasingly interested in the development of a new relationship between the City and Nature in which man's relationship with Nature is changing. This has wide-ranging influence on my architecture. I am also convinced that the mindless burning of fossil fuels, which I call "burning diamonds", is having a disastrous effect on the planet's natural, social and economical environment. We should instead be using the vast resource of fossil remains for higher-state energy transfer processes to produce hydrocarbon materials like carbon fibre, while at the same time moving towards using the renewable energy which will give rise to a new solar age.

Conference papers

  • The Intelligent Building Design Symposium in Stuttgart 1997. I delivered a paper entitled "Eastgate, Harare: a Living System in the City The same in Brussels, 1997
  • The same at the AA, London 1997 The same at the University of NUST, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe 1999
  • The same at the University of Zimbabwe, 1998
  • "The City and Nature" Durban 2000 Millennium Conference
  • "Stop Burning Diamonds" at the Harvard Graduate School of Architecture 2001
  • "Stop Burning Diamonds" at the RIBA, London and Sheffield in 2001
  • "Stop Burning Diamonds" at The Intelligent Building Design Symposium in Stuttgart 2001
  • "Stop Burning Diamonds" in Costa Rica 2001

Recent publications about my work

  • Zimbabwean Review September 1996. "Towards the Sustainable City"
  • AIT Spezial Intelligente Architektur, March 1996 4 "Bŭrohaus in Harare, Zugluft
  • De Spiegel, 1996 "Inspired by Termites"
  • New York Times, Feb 1996 & The Herald Tribune "Genius of Termites Inspires Office Development"
  • AR Architectural Review Australia 074 summer 2000/2001 "Anthill" by Professor Lindsay Johnston, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Design, The University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  • The Architectural Review (UK) September 1996. An article on Eastgate called "Sustainable Architecture"
  • The Arup Journal 1/1997.
  • CAA Architect News Net and Quarter 1997 Issue No 4.
  • Planning, Architectural & Planning Review for Southern Africa No 154 Nov 1997 Eastgate Harare Zimbabwe
  • Mathematical modelling of the storage of coolth University of Zimbabwe Research document
  • South African Architect Journal of the South African Institute of Architects March 1999
  • South African Architect Journal of the South African Institute of Architects August 1998 Report on Finalists Constitutional Court International Competition

BOOKS in which Eastgate is described

  • David Lloyd Jones Architecture and the Environment: Bioclimatic Building Design Lawrence King, 1998
  • George Baird The Architectural Expression of Environmental Control Systems, Spon Press, 2001
  • Toni Bŭrgin et al., Hi TechNatur: Drei Museen, Drei Ausstellungen, Natur-Museum Luzern page 51
  • The African City ACBD Workshop Report , Durban, April 2000 
  • David Gissen Big and Green: Toward Sustainable Architecture in the 21st Century Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
  • Derek Thomas A Vision for the New Age ARCHITECTURAL PRESS Architecture and the Urban Environment:



  • Awarded the 2003 Prince Claus Award for Culture and Development. This award covers participants in Africa, South and Central America, and Asia
  • British Civic Trust Award. For the conversion of All Saints Church in Newcastle-Upon Tyne 1982.
  • First prize, Fulton Award, Concrete Society of Southern Africa, 1997 for Eastgate
  • Steel Construction Award, 1997, Winner for Eastgate
  • International Design and Development Awards Programme of International Council of Shopping Centres, 1997, for Eastgate ICSC Certificate of Merit, 1997, for innovative design and construction of a new centre (Eastgate) (USA)
  • AAMSA Cladding Award, South Africa Certificate of MERIT 1998, for Eastgate
  • Short-listed for the Aga Khan Award 1999 for Eastgate
  • British Steel Design Sense for Architecture, 2000, short-listed in the top six for Eastgate


  • AIZ Award of Excellence, 1994, for the Hindoo Temple, Harare
  • AIZ Honourable Mention, 1994 for 101 Union Avenue Harare
  • AIZ, Merit in Architecture, 1999, for Chinhoyi Hospital
  • AIZ, Commended Design 1999, for Harare International School
  • Environment 2000, Award of Excellence, 1999, for Eastgate


  • Winner, 1985, of the competition for the New Parliament Building, Harare, Zimbabwe Finalist, 1997, one of the five for the International Competition for the New Constitutional Court of South Africa
  • Winner, (with Jackson Moore Architects), 1990, of the competition for the Agricultural Finance Corporation Headquarters, Harare

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