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.
Paule Chemical Headquarters and Laboratories in Alicante, Spain by ESTUDIO ARN ARQUITECTOS
December 17th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: ESTUDIO ARN ARQUITECTOS
Given the nature of today’s work processes, how can the workplace better support the employee and the company’s image? How can the workplace support all of the different activities involved with knowledge work – things like collaboration, creativity, innovation, deep thinking and mentorship? These are the questions this project tries to answer.
The project for the construction of a new corporate building was an innovative one. Comprising two floors and a basement, the structure contains the headquarters and two small laboratories of Chemical Paule, a manufacturer of finishing products for footwear. The building is in a purely industrial urban location, situated in a polygon-shaped site bordering on a natural environment. The remit was to create an entire interior with natural and controlled lighting to minimize the visual impact on the inside space.
The compactness and the dark-coated perforated skin contrast with the existing neutral background, which was interspersed with a series of “voids” allowing the patios to organize the interior space and serve as a visual filter and source of light. The outer skin of perforated corrugated sheet steel is painted dark, producing a sense of volume and continuing on into the main facade to evoke accessibility. This skin is designed to create an image of security from the outside, while the fact it is 50% covered with drill holes permits a full view from the inside.
The sheet disappears into the patios, exposing the underlying corporate green, and lending a partial view of an interior space that emits a bright white contrasting against its envelope. The courtyards are paved with artificial grass reinforcing the corporate color, while striving to offset the roundness and coldness of the industrial environment on which it has been implanted, reinforcing the inner world of shades conceived to create peaceful work areas.
The natural slope illuminates the basement in the southeast corner that houses a dining area for workers. In the main entrance to the estate, the building opens with a horizontal tier downstairs, extending along a wall that provides support for the access steps made from naturally occurring asphalt, creating an approach ramp from the works store. The empty spaces in the corner of the access area allow a fragmented view towards the mountains, as well as causing a shift in the facade, which facilitates access control into the building from the reception area.
On the ground floor, the project acquires a surface that looks more prominent. Seen from the entrance, the laboratories project a transparent image of operations. The main staircase is located in the central area and positioned against a white wall that leads out of the basement and progresses vertically across the space, serving as a cabinet area.
The rear facade runs flush into a wall that houses equipped laboratory facilities on the ground floor and a storage area on the top floor, thus limiting the direct view onto the wall of the adjoining buildings.
The use of light is another key element of the project. The aim is to maximize natural light, which is diffused to work areas through the courtyards, while the perforated facade acts as a filter to direct sunlight. All artificial lighting is designed so as to have an indirect impact on general areas, while lighting unit elements are used in the work zones. The use of white throughout the interior enhances the brightness. Plane flooring in bright white resin extends from the laboratory to the entire building, creating a mirror surface that unifies all workspaces. At night, the building acts as a flashlight through the courtyards, which are lit up and “empower” the green corporate light.
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