HOLCIM Costa Rica Offices
San Antonio de Belen, Costa Rica
Juan Carlos Sotela (structural engineer) Todd Dalland (Tensile engineering) Juan Luis Flores (mechanical engineering) Claudio Soto (Electrical engineering) Jimena Ugarte (architect and landscape architect)
Holcim Costa Rica S.A.
The building design is environmentally sustainable and socially responsible and include HOLCIM products in the construction with an adjusted budget and architectural design creativity and quality. It offer a comfortable, attractive and inspiring working environment that includes a variety of amenities and beautiful places for relaxation. The design encourages social interaction and a stimulating environment to work. The HOLCIM products includes: prefabricated foundations, columns, beams, and floors, standard and custom made posts, cement, concrete and aggregates. Stagno´s statement “Passive building - Active people“, change the mind of multiple employees used to work in air conditioned spaces. The occupants should actively control their indoor environment by operating the passive building systems. They should develop an awareness of heat transmission and airflow, and they should operate the windows, vents, and shading devices to maintain comfortable temperatures and humidity. By doing so, they are taking part in the reduction of the non -renewable resources consumption and they feel very happy about this. Shading and ventilation instead of mechanical air conditioning, provide a comfortable indoor climate through different shading mechanisms: fabric canopy, vertical sun blocks, and horizontal louvers. Earth movement during construction was limited and materials reused. Even the boulder left aside when the factory was built years before, were reinstalled in the courtyard. The design and the construction methods and processes were adapted to the capabilities of local construction contractors and the construction industry and labor skills in Costa Rica.
Most of the following statements were selected from the book “Office Building in Costa Rica, Measuring up to the Criteria of Sustainable Construction” by Bruno Stagno. The site is in the western part of the Central Valley, in San Antonio de Belén, Alajuela province in Costa Rica, at North latitude 9° 58´17.9112” and West longitude 84° 12´ 34.7616. The land was devastated due to the industrial activity. Many boulders were moved and stocked in a corner during the exploitation. Only one tree was in the place. The topography was interesting because it was no plate. The climate was very hot and humid during the rainy seasons and windy during the dry seasons. The neighborhood was an industrial suburb surrounded by small houses. No big buildings around. Density was low. Different activities were to take place in the same terrain: the manufacture of different products, the necessary facilities for employees and the administration with it corporate building. The parcel lot for the corporate building was in a hill, with an average humidity of 78% and beautiful views to the mountains. The landscaping design includes 174 native trees, 1.100 coffee plants and a variety of bushes and plants and species that were selected to recover and densify the sparse vegetation originally on the place. The selected species are endemic, to attract and support the local fauna. The indoor climate is also affected by the landscape decisions; it add shade where needed, filtering the dust and noise.
The building provides a comfortable indoor environment using passive means. The floor area of 3,896 m2 is divided into four two-story wings, strategically situated around a climate-regulating courtyard that allows light and air to enter inside. This garden has a programmed misting system to maintain humidity, reduce moisture loss and refresh the surroundings. The entrance wing is the most expose to the winds and is shielded by the wind diapason, a concrete wall polished with a smooth finishing. To optimize the insulating performance of the roof, an assembly of ventilation, insulation, and shading layers was designed. Textile structures shade the roof and the facades. Tinted glass reduce glare. Some ceiling fans were installed to improve comfort in certain areas. Measured by ISO comfort standards the HOLCIM offices provides a comfortable indoor climate during working hours. The significant achievement of this building is the way it answers the full range of concerns, it uses many efficient passive design mechanisms, it was built at a modest cost (US$ 658 m2 - 2004) it is a visually intriguing piece of architecture with symbolic power. Provides attractive spaces, it develops the environmental awareness of the occupants. Landscaping enriches local ecosystem. The design meets the client´s wish to incorporate cementitious materials. The use of durable and low maintenance materials, which surfaces are left to age naturally, that are not painted, and develop the beautiful patina of durable natural materials. Rainwater is collected for entrance fountains, misting systems and gardens.