Technical Architect: Sonia Nebreda
Arquitectos Colaboradores : Arturo Alberquilla, Alejandra M. de la Riva, Loreto Moreno, Javier E. Lecumberri, Luis Pancorbo
Consultants: Mecanismo (estructuras), JG Ingenieros (instalaciones), Arup (fachadas), JMIA (fiscalización)
Contractor: Castaneda Ingenieros S.A. de C.V.
Client: Puma Energy S.A. de C.V.
Text description provided by the architects. Puma Energy Corporate Headquarter is located on the Panamerican highway, passing through San Salvador. The new building, which is inserted between the existing commercial and industrial buildings that characterize this stretch of road with barely public profile, overlooks the road with a powerful cantilever taking part of the intensity of the traffic, showing its interior activity and acting as an innovative element of the urban landscape.
The building consists of two superimposed and arranged crosswise blocks, interlacing solids and voids all around them. Thus, a progressive sequence of compressions and expansions arranges and qualifies the circulation and access areas.
From the street, it is possible to access the plot through the interior street, and through the front gardens, and then to an entrance hall. This area of spatial compression acts by adjusting the scale to the user one, in such a way that the entrance to the building occurs through a more secluded area. The part in the back of the plot is dedicated to the parking area which is located between the pillars and screens of the building. This space, far from being a residual area of the project, takes on special relevance since it is strongly characterised by the expressive structure that covers it and the green areas that surround it.
Continuous and transparent areas are planned thanks to the concentration of horizontal seismic forces in a few massive walls. Two different kinds of relations with the surrounding have been distinguished. On one hand the lower block defines a space that establishes punctual relations with the exterior and it is defined by walls with buttresses that support the roof slab. This configuration allows having continuous linear skylights parallel to the walls between buttresses, where the light enters. At this level, the accesses and the programme for external visits are resolved.
A vertical void connects both blocks at their intersection allowing visual relations between different levels and programs. Here, the light is vertical and comes from skylights on deck in contrast to the horizontal spatiality of the open office area located in the upper level.
The upper block houses the offices and collective uses. Structurally, this block is resolved by two parallel longitudinal gantries that make up two overhangs on opposite ends, and perpendicular beams to the same. This piece emphasize the horizontality and is connected to the horizon through a screen of steel planks which also act as inverted curtain wall supports and sun protection.
The planks are homogenous throughout the longitudinal façades (east and west), in such a way that they allow for full scattered lighting of the working area. The inner corridors that flow next to the façades also act as areas that prevent the direct sunlight exposure on the office areas during certain hours of the day.
The East and West façades are therefore resolved by a “stick system” curtain wall from floor to ceiling with steel stiles and joists. Stiles located on the outside making up the sun protection system for the façade. The vertical and horizontal lateral joints between the glass panels of each pane of glass are sealed with neutral silicone and they have two isolated stainless steel pressers on each side of the glass. The vertical dimension of 3,200mm is constant throughout both façades, and the modulation for the horizontal dimension is also constant with a width of 750 mm.
The struts are made up of reinforced steel sections while the beams are made by joining half-lap joints using some welded plates on the ends of the strut and the beams. Both pieces are fit mechanically using stainless steel screws, fit from the outside. Struts and beams are equipped with an anodised aluminium extrusion piece called the “nose”, which is fit on mechanically using stainless steel screws on the inner face of the aluminium profiling.
On the other hand, while the South façade is resolved by a simple system of glazed enclosure mounted on aluminium extrusion carpentry, the vantage point that makes up the North façade is made using a suspended structure made up of reinforced steel sections. Both the floor and the ceiling of this vantage point are metallic and made up of sandwiched steel panels with an insulation core mounted in situ. These are load-bearing panels supported on their short sides on the steel H-shaped plates of the horizontal planks of the curtain wall, and fitted on mechanically to the steel mullions located parallel to the long sides of the panels.
Therefore, to the south, the screen disappears and the enclosure is recessed from the structure border generating an outdoor terrace, while on the north side the enclosure exceeds the limits of the concrete structure and is projected over the road, offering views of the volcano and of the city.