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The Exchange in Accra, Ghana, Is HOK’s First EDGE-Certified Project

Ronak Gawarwala from HOK’s London studio will showcase the mixed-use project during World Green Building Week in London.

The Exchange, a 1.1-million-sq.-ft. (98,000-sq.-m.) mixed-use development in Accra, Ghana, has been awarded preliminary EDGE certification. Designed in collaboration with executive architect Dar Al-Handasah, it is HOK’s first project to achieve this credential since the firm entered into a partnership agreement with World Bank Group member IFC in April 2016 to use IFC’s EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) green building software and certification system to promote sustainability in projects in emerging markets around the world.

Currently under construction in the growing airport district of Accra—Ghana’s capital city—the development includes a 200-key Radisson Blu luxury hotel, residential flats, two office buildings, more than 113,000 square feet (10,500 square meters) of retail space and public outdoor space. The project is expected to be complete in 2018.

“The Exchange complex represents everything we are striving to achieve with EDGE,” said Prashant Kapoor, IFC’s principal green building specialist and inventor of EDGE. “It is a symbol of how leading architectural practices such as HOK can work together with financiers and major hotel brands to bring resource-efficient design to life in emerging markets. We are grateful that HOK has championed the belief that inspiring design and sustainability are inseparable.”

“This is a great achievement for the project team, as it demonstrates how certifications such as EDGE recognize sustainability measures that reflect the local climate and context of a project,” said Gawarwala. “The development emphasizes passive design strategies, featuring a compact form with shaded public spaces that surround the entire retail area and reduce air conditioning demand.”

The new shopping destination features several distinct outdoor zones, including a lushly planted streetscape, a high-quality open-air shopping environment, restaurant terraces, a rooftop pool and garden spaces. A large green buffer mitigates the urban island heat effect, particulate pollution and surface runoff while providing a green park space. The landscape design draws inspiration from the strong angular geometry found within Ghanaian kente cloth, an African silk fabric made of interwoven cloth strips. It also recalls the architectural cooling devices used within the Tropical Modernism movement of the 1940s and 1950s as well as colorful plantings native to tropical West Africa.

Gawarwala will present The Exchange project at a Sept. 29 breakfast seminar during World Green Building Week in London. The event, hosted by SGS and thinkstep, will feature a panel discussion titled “EDGE for Designers and Building Owners.”

The clients for The Exchange, Actis and Mabani Holdings, worked closely with HOK, which was lead consultant and design architect. In addition to serving as executive architect, Dar Al-Handasah provided multidisciplinary engineering and EDGE assessment services.

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