We aren’t dealing with a project influenced by the pressure of the real estate boom or the need for an iconic brand image. The most pleasant and unique circumstances were set before us: the client was also the developer, the architect, the contractor and the user.
The initial aspiration of the assignment was simple: to erect a building that would house the activity of IDOM, while at the same time representing it and becoming as it were a visiting card for clients. Its culture and way of working should be clear from the building itself. This was an opportunity to turn a building into a showcase for its philosophy.
CODES - KEYS
Where could we find the keys that represent a firm like the one at hand? Taking into account the special culture of IDOM, it was obvious we would have to abandon any idea of its being media approved, short term or of rapid recognition or emotional representative. All these qualities seem to be an obsession which worries many corporations today, who need rapid success and visual appeal.
We decided to focus our work far from that rationale. We aimed for true environmental comfort, measureable, credible, real and not conditioned solely by its representative or spatial tectonic values. Our objective was also to create a more domestic, porous, ventilated, natural and agreeable working environment; something closer to the working conditions of a home than those of a typical tertiary bubble. We had to overcome the classic miseries and limitations of the 20th century office, consequences of its unhealthy attempt to create an artificial atmosphere and an iconic brand image.
In order to change those paradigms, a radically new approach was necessary. It was essential to make energy, the load bearing systems, the HVAC, the light, the orientation, the management of water or space and the sustainable strategies the bottom line of the codes over which the architectonic and formal references were to be supported, and not the other way round. We had to forget many references and images, load up with reasons and work with a new premise: the idea is not imposed on reality; the idea is conceived by the needs that reality imposes.
BUILDING THE NON – OFFICE
An atmosphere closer to that of a household which would do away with the axioms of the traditional office building. A space free from false ceilings and floors and with wood carpentry, cloth ducts, bare masonry walls, slow propulsion of air at room temperature and operational windows…in a nut shell: the non – office.
The HVAC based on radiant systems (TABS), using the high thermal inertia of the structure and its post-tensioned concrete floor slabs. An air propulsion system conceived exclusively for slow air renovation through cloth ducts, which can be cleaned and which avoids noise pollution.
Great structural spans that allow for a smooth and flexible flow area. Sun protection towards the south, and toned down light from the north. The perception of a continuous space both horizontally and vertically. A setting that includes fragments of nature, hanging gardens and green walls. A correct strategy for reusing water making the most of it for visual and acoustic pleasure.
GOOD, ATTRACTIVE & CHEAP
A building of reasonable cost and simple maintenance, easy to use and understand, flexible, kind in its presentation, quick upon changes, good, attractive and cheap and maximalist in its aspiration. A hi-tech building with low profile technology, complex in its conception but simple in its resolution.
We wanted a rigorously sustainable building, convinced of the high architectonic return of such an approach; an adequate balance between ecological, economic and social aspects. We pursued the aim of simply being able to work in a healthy environment, free from heat and cold, without any dazzles or toxic elements. All this implies high satisfaction levels and a healthy atmosphere.
This dynamic fitted in perfectly with the strategic objective of IDOM, and that is how the user has perceived it: an effort to build new offices breaking away from the old guidelines.
THERMALLY ACTIVE STRUCTURE
The building has an HVAC system which must be considered an integral part of the building itself (TABS: Thermally Activated Building System). A number of hydraulic circuits are laid out over the concrete slabs, keeping the temperature of the mass of the whole building within values very similar to those of the surrounding environment. There is no thermal stress. There is no noise or temperature difference between areas. It is the first building of its class in Spain which incorporates this technology, which is already being used in central Europe.
The adaptation of this system to the Mediterranean climate, and specially to the particular conditions of Spanish construction methods, have proven to be quite a challenge, research wise, which has finally paid off with the construction of this building. The high inertia of the system manages to separate completely in time the demand for energy from its production, granting it clear advantages over traditional systems. The energy accumulated in the structure during the day is freed by overnight evaporative cooling. The efficiency of this method cannot easily be matched by any other.