Thursday, July 8, 2010

SHoP Architects, is a Manhattan-based architectural firm founded and partnered by Gregg Pasquarelli, Christopher & William and Coren Sharples and Kimberly Holden. (Pasquarelli and Holden are married, having met in Columbia University’s Masters program in Architecture as are Coren and William Sharples who met in the same program. Christopher and William are twins).  The firm's philosophy is this - SHoP is considered a "second-generation" digital firm in that they focus on digital tools for utilitarian ends instead of fetishizing or over glorifying them. The firm employs Rhino, a 3-D software developed for Hollywood, a contrast to Frank Gehry's use of the more expensive CATIA, cutting down costs significantly. They also use computer-controlled fabrication to decrease the need for on site measuring and cutting, and take equity stake in their projects further reducing costs. Pasquarelli has said, the five of us came together completely out of a similar work ethic, and respect and commitment. I don't think the five of us had this great design agenda -- it came out of respect. This sounds a little hokey but it's more about a moral compass, a kind of drive compass. Maybe a motivational compass.

Ousting 17 other companies from Europe, USA and Africa, SHoP Architects was awarded first prize for their design of the Botswana Innovation Hub. The 270,000 sq ft office and research building will be a testament to Botswana’s support of research, as well as her promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship.The Botswana Innovation Hub will provide office and laboratory space for "technology-driven and knowledge-intensive" foreign and local businesses, according to the Botswana government, as well as research and advanced training institutes.

The building is also designed to be "an iconic symbol" of Botswana's support for research and development and the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship, and will act as "a nexus for knowledge creation and innovation". With the client calling for an iconic, timeless but environmentally sensitive building SHoP's design uses a variety of sustainable techniques; including a concept SHoP calls the "Energy Blanket" roofs cape. This combines passive and active sustainable energy techniques by incorporating large overhangs to passively shade the building's interior volumes, mechanisms to collect and re-use water, and both passive and active photovoltaic systems to harness solar energy. This combination is expected to offset "at least half" of the building's operational energy costs, according to SHoP.The design also includes a low-maintenance roof garden that collects and filters rainwater, which is used in the roof garden and bio swales- all landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water downstream in the courtyards. As the hub is comprised of state of the art laboratory spaces for “technology-drive and knowledge-intensive foreign and local businesses,” it seems only fitting that SHoP incorporate the latest green technology available.

The most dominate sustainable technique is SHoP’s “energy blanket” roofscape – a system that combines passive and active systems. Large overhangs passively shade the building’s interior volumes, while mechanisms collect and re-use water, and both passive and active photovoltaic systems harness solar energy. With this new roof, the passive and active systems will offset at least half of the building’s operational energy costs.

Client: Botswana Development Corporation
Location of Project: Gabarone Botswana, Africa

The work that SHoP does is incredibly organic, modern and socially concious. It truly imporoves any space it is placed in and the purpose driven team are one we will be hearing about for years to come.
To learn more about green design, SHoP Architects or the Botswana Project, please visit

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