Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Mercedes Benz Hotel Tower in Yerevan, Armenia by OFIS architects
June 7th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: OFIS architects
All Seasons Tent Tower – Mercedes Benz Hotel Tower
The competition was held to create an international business centre containing a museum and hotel in Yerevan. The prominent location and dominating position of the competition area represents a chance for a unique arrangement with its own identity and could become a symbol or landmark of contemporary architecture in the city of Yerevan. The mixture of programs and relations inside the space calls for complex organisation – both inside and outside.
The shape of the building symbolically represents the biblical Mt. Ararat. It takes the idea of two terraced cylindrical towers connected at the ground floor. The higher tower is a hotel and business centre and the lower is occupied with apartments. The two towers are connected by the public area which includes, shopping, exhibition and restaurants combined with the hotel lobby and business entrance. Parking is located mainly in the garage under the ground floor, with part of the fast parking and taxi/bus drop off outside at the Plato.
The structural facade skin covers the terraces of both towers, creating openings and full-structural elements. The facade is a metal mesh that represents the landscape element that is rising from the Plateau. It contain two faces: In summer the mesh is covered by greenery that is planted at the fence of the terraces. In winter it is white and partialy covered with snow. In the garden a cafe is located with a seating area. With lit windows glowing from behind to give a festive look. The round shape of the towers corresponds with the circular and round structures specific to Yerevan’s urban pattern. In the base of both towers there is commercial space, an exhibition area and entrances.
The area under the void is a large water feauture that mirrors the floors above. In tower A there are offices and a hotel, the top floor is a restaurant and spa. In tower B there are apartments. The volumes of the two towers are positioned and designed in a way that creates a dominant and remarkable view from the city. The higher tower occupied mainly by the hotel appears dominant from Teryan street. With Mt Ararat behind the new complex it creates the dialog of an object and a shadow. All spaces have spectacular views towards the city and surrounding area. The prominent location and dominating position with biblical Mt. Ararat as background “wallpaper” represents a chance for unique rearrangement with its own identity and could become a symbol and landmark of contemporary architecture in the city of Yerevan. The mixture of programs and relations inside the program calls for complex organisation – both inside and outside.
The concept reinstates two terraced cylindrical towers connected in the ground floor embraced with green tent-shape layer.
Higher tower is hotel and business centre (shopping, retail, convention…), lower is occupied with apartment program (apart-business condos, private apartments…).
Public program is connecting the towers, here shopping, exhibition and restaurants are combined with hotel lobby and business entrance. Parking is mainly in garage under the ground floor, part of the fast parking and taxi/bus drop off are outside at the Plato.
Structural facade skin is covering the terraces of towers, creating openings and full-structural elements. The facade is a metal mesh that represents landscape element that is rising from the Plato. With its present also corresponds during the seasons:
In summer the mesh is covered by greenery that is planted at the fence of the terraces.
In winter it is white and partly covered with snow. In the garden cafe is located with sitting area. With lighted windows glowing from behind it gets festive look. Circle towers correspond with round structures specific for Yerevan urban tissue.
Base – tower A
Base of the building that connects the towers has public program. Entrances are from the north side of the Plato. They are accessible by car as drop-off / pick-up area. Under the hotel/business tower there is reception with hotel lobby. Guests enter by the reception to the internal water-garden that is completely opened through all floors of the tower. Offices, rooms and hotel facilities are orientated towards the water-garden through internal balconies and galleries. Space is spectacular and communicative and offers many functions. Floor of the area is a water feature that mirrors the sky, galleries above and green façade. It creates reflections and shadows through all the volume of the tower.
There are two vertical cores connecting rooms and facilities in the tower – accessible through the bridge over the water. Around the garden shops are located. More shops are located around external tent area accessible from the external Plato. Access to the hotel rooms and offices is controlled by reception – then using access card that opens area of the elevators. Some elevators connect hotel rooms, other business areas. There is mezzanine area above the shops that offers second floor of shopping or shop offices and services like hairdresser, cosmetics etc…
Tower A – lower floors
Business centre is located in lower 6 floors of the tower. It has 14.500 m2 in summa. Offices are gathered around facade, meeting spaces and common areas are towards the void. Space is flexible and offers many organisational plans. There are no structural walls – only columns. Different sizes of departments can be organised as well as various types of organisation such as cells or ocean plan. One enters through the vertical core that offers view to the internal void and garden. Offices are directly accessible also from the garage.
Tower A – middle floors
Hotel rooms are in floors 8 to 18. More expensive units are situated higher and have better view:
In lower floors hotel rooms are situated. They are 35-45m2 hotel rooms, 19 rooms per floor. Each room has balcony and is equipped with bathroom, wardrobe, sitting area, desk and double bed. Some rooms can be connected as family rooms. In each floor also common space for meetings is situated.
In higher floor hotel-apartments are located. These are 1-bedroom apartment of 90m2 and 2bedroom apartment of 120m2, 12 apartments / floor. Each apartment has terrace and area for sleeping, working, kitchen, dining and living area as well as luxuries bathroom and wardrobe. Some apartments can be connected. In each floor also common space for meetings is situated.
Presidential suits, senior and junior suit as well as 3 bed apartments are located in 18th floor with best views and large terraces. They will have best equipment and be in different sizes. Each suit has large terrace with external whirlpool and area for sleeping, working, kitchen, dining and living area as well as luxurious bathroom and wardrobe. In each floor also common space for meetings is situated.
Tower B – top floors
In top floor fitness with pool and panoramic restaurant are located. They can be accessed by hotel guests only or also from the public.
Floor 20 has fitness centre with wardrobes of 400m2 and sport-bar of120m2. There is also 380m2 of external terrace connected to fitness and bar offering external exercise.
In floor 21 Spa area with saunas and 2 swimming pools (7 and 14m in diameter) are located. In summa there is 950m2 of internal space and 380m2 of external terrace. Glazed facade of the pool can be opened offering feeling of external swimming in summer. Floor 20 and 21 has also internal communication.
Panoramic restaurant is in floor 22 which is suggested to be rotating and offering spectacular views to the City and surrounding. In summa there is 950m2 of internal space and 380m2 of external terrace.
Base – tower B
Base of the building that connects the towers has public program. Entrances are from the north side of the Plato. They are accessible by car as drop-off / pick-up area.
Under the residential tower there is exhibition space of 4430m2 organised in 2 floors. Also core of this tower is void with water-garden on the lowest floor.
Exhibition visitors enter by the reception/shop into the internal water-garden that is opened through 2 exhibition floors and has partly glazed roof. Space is spectacular and communicative and offers many functions. Floor of the area is a water feature that mirrors the sky, galleries above and green façade and offers space for special art exhibits. It creates reflections and shadows through the volume of the tower. Stairs connect both floors together.
There is one vertical core connecting all floors. Around the water-garden exhibition rooms are located that can be closed. More are located around external circumference that is accessible from the other side. Apartments are orientated towards the garden through internal balconies and galleries. Access to the residences is at the level – 1, where owners and visitors can park the car. It is controlled by reception – or using access card that opens area of the elevators.
Tower B – all floors
Apartments are in 6 floors above exhibition. In summa there are 6 apartments per floor of sizes 100m2 to 250m2. Each apartment has large external terrace. Apartments are accessed via vertical core that have panoramic elevators that look into exhibition garden. They are accessed from floor -1 directly from the garage. Above glazed roof of the exhibition there is void surrounded by internal balconies and apartment entrances. Program of exhibition and apartments is separated due to security reason but yet has visual dialog that makes residential units of special character and culture.
Apartments will be contemporary with large spaces; special care is provided to bathroom and wardrobes. They have panoramic windows towards its terraces. Terrace is protected by external shading against the sun and winds. In summa there is 5.700m2 of residential programme organised in 36 units that can be also connected.
Base – between towers
Part of the base connecting both towers has public programs that partly belong to shopping, exhibition, hotel, business and residential. On ground floor there are two restaurants, in mezzanine services such as hairdresser, spa or cosmetic. En trance is from the north and external terraces are on the south with nice views towards the city.
Base has 2 underground floors with garages and mechanical rooms. Both floors have 35.500m2 and offer 1.400 parking spaces. Both floors of the garage are accessed by the main road climbing to the Plato. From this road taxi and bus as well as intervention traffic can access the Plato. On the northern part short parking is possible for VIP and taxi. Otherwise Plato is pedestrian.
Pedestrian access is from the road via serpentine path that is sloping to the Plato. It offers nice views towards the city with resting/sitting areas along the path. Path ends on the southern part of the Plato where outside sitting areas of bars are located. Existing stone wall will be integrated as element into the landscape of the raising bath and architecture of the Plato.
Existing building is kept; business program will be located inside the building. It is separated from the new volume of the building and connected with existing walls. With shape of the Plato and walls it is remaining memory of the past forming strong stone base to the new.
Views from and towards the city
The volumes of two towers are positioned and designed on the way that creates dominant and remarkable view from the city. Higher tower occupied mainly by the hotel is appears as dominant from the Teryan street. With the Mt Ararat behind the new complex is creating a dialog of an object and a shadow. All spaces have spectacular views towards the city and surrounding.
Facade: shading, wind flows, wind protector
Special care is to achieve optimized environmental conditions with a minimized energy demands in three steps:
Reducing the energy and meeting remaining conditions with high-performance building-integrated systems and sourcing those systems as much as possible with renewable sources.
One of the core ideas of the sustainability concept is to heat and cool working, living and hotel room areas and use the exhaust air of these offices/rooms to condition the atrium, which is used as a big buffer space. The external facades will feature a high performance with adaptable external shading device to reduce solar gains in summer. The concrete slab imbedded pipe system provides cooling without draft problems and in winter comfortable radiant heating. In summer the cooling of the offices/room spaces will be achieved for major amount of time just using the slab system. The decentralized ventilation units vent fresh air into the rooms and serve as peak time cooling in summer. During winter the fresh air will be heated inside the units and distributed into the rooms using the displacement ventilation principle. An overflow to the atrium allows the exhaust air to flow from the offices into the atrium and through louvers in the roof to the outside.
The atrium itself is a buffer space, which is naturally ventilated and heated/cooled by the exhaust air from the rooms and offices. This means the temperature in the atrium will swing from 15°°C in winter to ambient conditions at the upper levels in summer (temperature stratification). To minimize the peak summer conditions, features inside the atrium like the water wall and floor cooling system will condition this space in addition. The water wall is used for cooling and dehumidification purposes in summer, whereas in winter the water will evaporate and humidify the air. Special areas inside the atrium will get this “own” climate. Especially for a front desk this local climate is important to guarantee adequate working conditions.
The energy supply system is based on natural resources like river water heat exchanger to provide cooling in summer as well as heating – in combination with a heat pump – in winter. Photovoltaic cells integrated in the atrium roof generate power.
Another objective of a sustainable building approach thrives to minimize of energy intensive materials instead local available, sustainable materials will be used.
The main driver when choosing a suitable structural system for the building was safety during earthquakes, since the city of Yerevan is situated in a region prone to strong earthquakes, and flexibility of space. Therefore the vertical structure, which resists gravity load and forces resulting from earthquake action, was rationalized to reinforced concrete cores and composite columns. While two cores on the inner perimeter of the taller tower are required to ensure structural stability, one is sufficient in case of the lower one. At the base the outer walls of the cores are 160cm thick. Three concentric sets of composite columns (steel tubes filled with concrete) are foreseen. Due to the terraced shape of the building the columns on the outermost perimeter are inclined towards the centre of the building. Those on the innermost perimeter are inclined in 3D space to form a mesh. All columns have a maximum diameter of 130cm. The core wall thickness and column dimensions are reduced with the height of the building. Structural facade skin will be used to support the gravity load of the slabs.
Fire safety of steel components will be provided by a special coating which guarantees up to 90 minutes of protection. Inter-storey slabs are post-tensioned using unbounded tendons and have no drops or girders, except in the region where extremely large spans are foreseen. Their thickness is estimated to 25cm to 30cm, depending on the span. The maximum length of cantilevers may be 3m to 4m. Due to landscaping and weight of vehicles used during interventions the slab above first basement is 40cm thick. Based on the available data a 200m deep foundation slab will be sufficient below the cores of the taller tower. Strip and pad foundations are foreseen below the columns.
Standards used during design process
Static and dynamic analysis was carried out according to the Eurocode standards:
Design peak ground acceleration during earthquakes was determined based on the data available in Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program.
In the subsequent design phases a geodetic report and a detailed report on soil conditions will be required, including any restrictions regarding foundation depth. Additionally, a retaining wall for protection of the excavation will have to be designed.
Contact OFIS architects