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2016 MCHAP.emerge

East Office

Jose Palacios

Guatemala, Guatemala

December 2015


PXParchitecture &Partners


Marvin Xinico (Architect assistant)


Sigma Constructores S.A.


Jose Palacios Marko Bradic


The objectives would be best described as: constructing a floating structure over an existing antique office building while avoiding any type of contact with the latter in order to maintain its operativeness trough-out the construction process. A second but not least important objective would be to promote bio-climatic architecture while reinforcing the idea of sustainable practices such as rainwater retention for later use; allowing maximum daylight exposure while controlling mechanically the incident solar radiation through a mechanized/automatized louvers system, and lowering the need for HVAC intervention by designing a thermal insulated envelope all around the new building while creating new building components for the region.


The project is located in the capital city of Guatemala, Central America; global climate change has created the necessity of complex building materials new to the region and also to re-think local tectonics. Working in this region may have represented two mayor challenges: (1) to design, test and develop new materials and technologies in a developing country where there is still a high price for innovation payed in the form of drag towards the final product. (2) to design a "floating" or levitated structure on a highly seismic region where coding and regulations oblige to re-think and design around an otherwise ultra heavy and stout structure. A third (3) acquired challenge would have been that of constructing a structure on top of an operative office building where extra tidiness and quietness were enforced.


The roofing system is designed to multi-perform as an day light accentuator through a system of automated motorized louvers and a double-glazing system for insulation and low emittance. It also has a polyurethane core for thermal performance (new to the area) and the geometry of the roofing system responds to the intention of retaining rainwater. Part of the captured and treated rainwater is reinserted to the project through a auto-cleaning system for the glazing area located on the roof. Another technical achievement was to design a pre-stressed insulated prefab concrete wall unit containing a polyurethane core which helps maintaining the inside temperature within the confort zone with minimal effort from the HVAC system while at the same time introducing a new product via local industry for the Central American region.

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