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Foster + Partners creates flexible workspace with demountable timber structure for energy company
Spain Architecture News - Jul 04, 2022 - 15:12 1524 views
Named Ombú, the project emerges as an innovative exemplar of building reuse and revitalises the surrounding area.
Covering over 10,000 square meters on site, Foster + Partners has transformed a former disuse gas plant into an office space of the company by inserting a tree-shaped timber structure inside.
The project unifies a unique mix of private and public land with green landscaping that extends to the adjoining Méndez Álvaro station.
Conceived as a demountable structure, a tree-shaped platform is raised on slender, timber columns that allow people free movement underneath, while maximizing the space inside.
As Foster + Partners explained, Ombú has been given "a 1.0 Planet Ecological Footprint". This means that its carbon emissions will be absorbed by the current capacity of the earth and this achieves the necessities defined by the Paris Agreement, with its environmental impact compatible with the original +2°C target.
"Ombú creates a flexible and desirable lifestyle"
"Ombú brings an industrial wasteland back to a new garden in the city. Madrid's benign climate allows workspaces to be outside as well as inside, creating a flexible and desirable lifestyle," said Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners.
"Natural materials are brought into the existing building, contributing to biophilic spaces that are good for wellbeing and productivity," Foster added.
The building was originally built in 1905 by the architect Luis de Landecho to provide energy to the surrounding areas. However, the building later fell into disuse. In 2017, Acciona acquired the building to save it from demolition, a fate that other similar structures in the area had experienced in recent years.
The project features the existing load-bearing structure that supports the pitched steel trusses. The studio preserved the exterior envelope of this historic building and conserved over 10,000 tonnes of original brick and mitigate the environmental impact.
Inside, the Foster + Partners team inserted a lightweight structure made from sustainably sourced timber harvested from local forests. The structure allows for spatial flexibility, while also integrating lighting, ventilation and other services.
"The timber structure will save more than 1,600 tonnes of CO2 and is recyclable and demountable," according to the studio.
"A central skylight brings natural light to the interior, reducing the need for artificial lighting, while the glazing incorporates photovoltaic technologies that generate electricity."
"The new design retains and enhances the original masonry structure, while upgrading other aspects of the building and extending its life by introducing new flexible workspaces - giving it a sustainable legacy for years to come," said Taba Rasti, Senior Partner and co-head of the Madrid studio.
Considering Madrid's temperate climate, the studio creates a new courtyard that offers the option to comfortably work outdoors. The courtyard connects to a large 12,400 square-metre park with 350 trees featuring outdoor working spaces and areas for informal meetings sheltered by a green canopy of trees.
Local species have been carefully selected to reduce water consumption, which will come from local sources. The new green, public space connects the building with the surrounding community and generates a positive social impact.
Ombú is described as "one of the most sustainable projects" by Foster + Partners and was presented by Chris Trott, Head of Sustainability at COP26 in Glasgow as a case study for the World Green Building Council.
Located in the lively Arganzuela district, Ombú also benefits from direct access to rail and bus networks, encouraging employees to travel by public transport.
"Using the concept of Ecological Footprint, the impact of the project was quantified and improved across all aspects of the development; its carbon footprint has been carefully measured and controlled," said Foster + Partners.
According to the studio, "the design reduces embodied carbon by 25 percent when compared to a new build over the whole life of the project, while making allowances for future refurbishment."
"The operational energy is calculated to be 35 percent below normal expectations."
Acciona's vision for the future aligns with the practice's commitment to developing bespoke design solutions that are optimised for their operations and the planet.
Floor plan. Image © Foster + Partners
Image © The Norman Foster Foundation
Working closely with Acciona and the local collaborating architects Ortiz León Architects, the practice has addressed sustainability holistically to realise this unique retrofit project and rejuvenate the surrounding area.
Foster + Partners is designing New York's "largest all-electric tower" for JPMorgan Chase in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City, United States. The firm revealed plans to revitalize San Francisco's iconic Transamerica Pyramid.
All images © Nigel Young / Foster + Partners unless otherwise stated.
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