Construction of Botswana Innovation Hub nearing completion

The Botswana Innovation Hub is being developed by the government of Botswana through the Botswana Development Corporation. The structure is located on the outskirts of the capital city, Gaborone, near the Kalahari desert, and will house a wide scope of innovation incubation, scientific research, and education activities.

by editor
August 31st, 2020

In 2010, New York based SHoP Architects won an International Competition to design the campus buildings housing the innovation hub. The innovation hub is part of a Science and Technology Park project, and will house a wide scope of activities in innovation incubation, scientific research, and education.

The client brief was for "an iconic yet timeless building which employed the most cutting-edge green technology available." The overall design concept is characterised by the cultural significance of the dunes and delta to Botswana.

SHoP Architects are working with Aikagroup, Technopolis Plc and Nuttall Smith Architects as design architects on the project. A post on SHoP Architects' website states that "To realize this ambitious project under demanding logistical constraints, SHoP deployed select teams to live in Gaborone and work on-site with our local partners. Together we deployed a full range of digital modeling and visualization technologies, many developed in-house. Clash detection and other construction management functions are being achieved in the field via an iPhone-accessible 3D database hosted in New York. The design and delivery of the building envelope is a landmark project in the development of fully automated, paperless, direct-to-fabrication construction techniques."

SHoP Architect's approach to delivering the client's requirements included the deployment of an energy blanket roofscape configuration that includes 'passive' and 'active' sustainable energy techniques.

Large overhangs at the top and lower levels of the building passively shade the buildings’ interiors.

Roof overhangs provide shading to the buildings interiors
Roof overhangs provide shading to the buildings interiors

The roofs are also covered by roof gardens with local and drought-tolerant species that do not need watering, and contain rainwater harvesting systems that collect rainwater for reuse.

The roof garden
The roof garden

Photovoltaic panels are placed across the roofscape to further boost environmental performance. These energy saving features will enable the Botswana Innovation Hub to actively function within the environment of the desert's demanding heat, and offset up to half of the building's operational energy costs.

Maximising self-shading with roof gardens, articulated facades and planted courtyards
Maximising self-shading with roof gardens, articulated facades and planted courtyards

The facility footprint has an area of approximately 28,799m², on a 57 hectares site. The innovation hub is the first stage of the development of the 57-hectare Science and Technology park that will include offices, industrial units and hotels. The Science and Technology Park project is estimated to cost US$56 million. 

The Main Contractor for construction of the innovation hub facility is a joint venture between Caitec Botswana and Jiangsu Zhengtai Construction Group Co. Construction work started on the innovation hub in August 2014 and is expected to finish in 2021.

The facade system consisted of 3,000 panel units with 1,700 unique panel types. The facade panels were fabricated in Cape Town, South Africa, and then shipped approximately 900 miles north to the project site where the prepackaged panels were delivered with detailed step-by-step IKEA-like assembly instructions, in the form of axonometric diagrams, and subsequently assembled by the main contractor and the facade installer in the parking garage beneath the Botswana Innovation Hub structure. 

Assembly instructions for facade panels
Assembly instructions for facade panels
Facade panels installed on building
Facade panels installed on building

During installation, the facade components were tracked in real-time and digitally scanned for comparison with a cloud-based digital “twin” using proprietary technology that SHoP Architects had created on an earlier project (the Barclays Center in Bronx, New York). This novel project-tracking system allows for the immediate identification of dissimilarities from incorrect installation or other miscalculations and immediate resolution through on-site adjustment. The technology involves the application of a novel iPhone interface capable of scanning facade components during fabrication, assembly, transport, and installation to keep an up-to-date digital catalog of the status of construction.

SHoP Architect's material and project-tracking system
SHoP Architect's material and project-tracking system

The facade contractor is South Africa-based fabricator and installer World of Windows. Botswana-based Mmile Mhutsiwa and Associates is the quantity surveyor, Pula Consultants are civil and geotechnical engineers and AMA Projects Botswana is project manager. 

Photos: (SHoP Architects | shoparc.com)

 

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