Abstract Holcom H.Q. is a wonderful success story of brilliant, youthful Italian enterprise abroad. A tale of Italian design of the utmost excellence hinging around a major project in a particularly interesting location. The building is a pulsating architectural system bringing together people, processes, a mission, values and dreams in a highly distinctive and representative place, all meticulously designed in every detail, functional and beautiful to live in. The Holcom offices project has once again made Lombardini22 one of the finalists in the MIPIM awards scheduled to take place in Cannes from 15th-18th March 2016. First created in 1991, the MIPIM Awards are a prestigious competition held at the internationally renowned MIPIM real estate exhibition.
The project successfully brings together two brands belonging to the Lombardini22 Group: L22, in charge of the architectural design and art direction, and DEGW, a leading firm in strategic consultancy about work methods and the interaction between physical space and corporate performance, that handled the space planning and interior design.
A latest generation office building in a special setting. Located in a privileged position offering views across downtown Beirut on one side and the highlands around the city on the other, Holcom H.Q. projects a solid image of a major company, which has decided to group together its various enterprises in one single distinctive location.
The building joins together companies, people and cultures: it is an authentic linchpin of intercultural values, bringing together the cutting-edge sustainable Western approach to office building design, the clever use of local materials, Italian design values and Mediterranean culture, in one exemplary mix.
The building, constructed on a quadrangular base with an oblique side that fits neatly into the sloping ground, extends over seven levels above ground with 35,000 m² of surface area and houses numerous companies and sub-holdings belonging to Holcom. The main building structure is composed of two large separate blocks connected together by a carefully setback central structure based around an interplay of intricate structures allowing a diversified layout of functions and spaces. The ground floor entrance on the north-east side leads to a large hall providing access to a semi-open area with pools of water surrounding a coffee bar. Up above a first level of parking facilities, the building is divided into three parts on the third floor: a central area set back in a connecting wing to create two spacious tree-lined terraces, while at each end two office blocks with interior patios allow natural light and air to flow in. Finally, the top floor of the main structures accommodates two penthouses serving executive and training purposes for the organisation, which interact through a spacious terrace covered by a steel structure supporting photovoltaic panels.
On the west side there is a reinforced concrete outside staircase with overhanging steps cuts diagonally across the façade that is clad with sheet metal and stone. The parapet made of solid aluminium sheets is the same as those on the upper terrace and fire escape creating one single line winding down from the top floor to the ground floor.
Location Beirut, Lebanon L22 and DEGW have designed a project for a major corporate building in a place, Beirut, that has always been one of the busiest financial and cultural centres in the Middle East: the new Holcom Headquarters. Located over in the eastern part of the city between Corniche Pierre Gemayel and Rue Emile Lahoud, high-speed roads cutting across greater Beirut from north to south, the new headquarters of Holcom is a large building with six floors above ground level, standing in an area undergoing complete redevelopment in a privileged location with views towards the city centre on one side and the hills around the city on the other.
Concept Holcom HQ is based on the idea of bringing together over 20 companies belonging to the holding in one single building that will be a highly iconic landmark on Beirut’s cityscape.
The project draws on a dense and, at the same time, diversified concept for interpreting Holcom’s identity based on a sequence of layers accommodating various different functions on its different levels, ranging from warehouses to cutting-edge office spaces, all enveloped in a double skin, which, together with the interiors, forms one single coherent and coordinated system. Built over seven levels above ground covering 35,000 m² of space, Holcom H-Q. can accommodate up to 1000 people and various different organisations at the same time, thanks to a project focusing on a successful combination of factors:
• - A balance between enhancing its surfaces and making its spaces as people-friendly as possible (green areas, terraces, communal places, offices, car parks, conference facilities) • - Rational management of both internal and external flows • - Optimisation of all energy/environmental aspects • - Flexibility of its interiors (space planning and architectural features) • - An architectural design capable of creating open interaction between modernity and tradition.
Architecture Facade The building makes an immediate impact as a distinctive landmark: the façade is a mediating interface between modernity and the traditional style of the cultural area in which the building is located. The outer cladding, composed out of a metal grid and chrome-plated features combined into heterogeneous modules, which together create a sort of random effect, instilling unity on the entire building structure.
Curtain wall The most distinctive feature of the building is its double skin, designed based on two systems: a seamless glazed curtain wall placed 20 cm beyond the edge of floors to allow the installation of a strip of heat and sound insulation, and outside cladding. The outside skin creates a dynamic pattern that tones down the overall building mass and unifies its structural layout.
Business concept Flexibility and technology are the cornerstones of this business concept. As well as making the interior space brighter and more pleasant to inhabit, the subtractions and dividing up of the structures into three also dictate the public and private flows, as part of a system in which work and relational spaces are both separate and interconnecting on every level.
The support hubs are the connective tissue of the various corporate functions. A scheme that has allowed efficient and linear floor layouts based on a 1.5-metre functional modulus setting out all the different elements into a flexible and coherent system, from the façade and raised floor to the double-ceiling that follows and accompanies the modulus by means of a multipurpose frame structure housing glass partitions, lighting appliances and other components (air conditioning, curtains, sound barriers), all of which can be repositioned.
The same principle of flexibility over time also dictated the stacking plan aimed at enhancing all the building spaces, from the mezzanines with their own office areas to those sections whose floor depth can be adapted to accommodate parking, storage or new support functions just by means of simple, economical adjustments: to cater for the future needs of a large building grouping together over 20 companies under one single roof.
Offices The office areas are mainly set out based on an open-space plan. The offices conform to the very latest guidelines for a modern-day working environment in terms of organisational flexibility and comfort (acoustics, technical lighting, technology) with dedicated areas for workstations, formal/informal support and relaxing. Everything culminates in two executive management areas connected together by a panoramic terrace and crowned by a steel roof structure holding up the photovoltaic system. DEGW took charge of the space planning and interior design.
Facilities A spacious and welcoming lobby area on the ground floor is the first means of access to the company. An informal meeting area and coffee bar are the ideal places for receiving guests or enjoying short breaks and informal conversations. A small retail area, consisting of two shops, reinforces the group’s identity. The first sells IT and electronic goods marketed by Holcom. The second is devoted to international design: a way of enhancing the company’s aspirations in terms of lifestyle.
The canteen has been designed like a cafeteria and restaurant: open from morning until late afternoon, it is used all day long as a congregation place. The three-story parking facility has over 450 parking spaces.
Interior design The dividing up into different structures allows public and private pathways to be created, making the interior space more brightly lit and pleasant to inhabit. That is why the project has located the client areas in the structures connecting the separate levels, linking them to the office spaces by means of support hubs. The interior design project has created a layout of efficient, linear floor plans based around a 1.5-metre functional modulus (the same as the façade’s), which arranges the elements into a coherent and flexible system. All the office spaces are constructed around an integrated system of raised floors-double ceilings that allows the utmost flexibility of spaces, access to the systems in the double ceilings and floors for inspection purposes, and the incorporating of lights.
Sustainability Environmental issues are of primary importance in this project: starting with the shell, which, bearing in mind the strong and intense light in Beirut, is designed to maximise day-lighting, reduce the use of artificial lighting and, at the same time, protect the exposed surfaces from powerful sunlight.
The shell is a skin composed of two sub-systems: external shielding enveloping the entire building, whose density modulates in an apparently random way but is actually the result of an in-depth study into how sunlight strikes the building that was carried out using parametric software (reducing temperatures by 78%), and a glazed curtain wall placed beyond the edge of the building to leave room for an efficient strip of heat and sound insulation, whose high-quality glass reduces the residual sole factor by a further 50% resulting in an overall rating of ≤ 0.1 without interfering with the lighting in the interiors.
As well as the high degree of shielding against sunlight provided by the double skin that notably reduces temperature levels, the building is also equipped with a 110 kW photovoltaic system, including a roof system (1200 m²) and vertical system located on the main terrace, thereby covering over 20% of energy requirements.
The entire building is managed by a complex system (BMS, building management system), which automatically manages the mechanical system, guaranteeing high performance levels without losing energy, and also controls the lighting by means of LCS (lighting control system) to optimise costs and consumption levels.
Another environmental sustainability feature is the decision to mainly use local materials, such as the stone cladding, as part of a local-sourcing line of thinking that informs the entire building design.
Nature and architecture The building is the result of careful structural movements: with internal patios, wells of light, and the incorporating of natural features in the architecture (Mediterranean vegetation, pools of water etc.), partly to balance out humidity levels.
Greenery is an extremely important part of the project: 3 little internal courtyards accommodating 10 metre-tall bamboo plants, 5 trees that are 8 metres tall casting shadows across the two terraces, 18 trees to recreate the old boundary wall, a wood of 500 m² of citrus fruits consisting of 65 plants coming in 5 different species, and a 90 m² landscaped wall on the ground floor opposite the main lobby. These green features, which can be seen from every floor and every block of the building, create a relaxing and sensitive atmosphere, undoubtedly unique of its kind in this entire neighbourhood that mainly houses industrial buildings or constructions badly in need of repair and redevelopment.
Their opinions Alessandro Adamo Partner at L22 - Director of DEGW The project came into being when Holcom turned to DEGW and L22 when they were looking for specialists in designing office spaces with that distinctive feel of Italian design. Holcom was already at an advanced stage in designing its own headquarters and the aim was to develop the space planning and interior design. So DEGW and L22 began devising projects studies focusing on the efficiency of its spaces and assessing the limits and opportunities offered by the project. The preliminary study highlighted a number of inadequacies and possible improvements that the client decided to look at more closely, commissioning the firm to revamp the overall architectural design. What has now emerged years later is the result of integrated design that has developed the new Holcom headquarters according to guidelines based around modularity, the standardisation of work settings and internal operating dynamics of the highest architectural standard, complete with quality finishes.
We can now see a completed project based around functionality, aesthetics, flexibility and, above all, human factors connected with the people who will inhabit the building and live there on a daily basis.
A place where people are happy to spend their working day, featuring a mixture of work facilities, meeting rooms and informal support areas, where socialising and the exchanging of ideas help spread business opportunities.
Marco Amosso Partner at L22 The new Holcom H.Q. is a large building with 8 floors above ground level and 2 underground levels, making a total of 35,000 m² of built space wrapped in a mutating double skin that instils the complex with both unity dynamism.
L22’s project interprets the site based around an architectural concept following certain key principles: a careful balance between focusing on surfaces and making the spaces as pleasant to inhabit as possible; the rational management of both internal and external flows; and the optimising of all the various energy-environmental aspects combined with an architectural image with something experimental about it. The external shielding enveloping the building and altering its density as required, developed with the aid of specific software, is composed of various metallic elements, which, combined into five different sequences off-site, form heterogeneous moduli the together create a random pixel effect on the facade: everything is visually ‘random’ but all carefully focused from a solar control viewpoint. The building structure behind these external ‘clothes’ is the result of careful structural movements, paying careful attention to the environmental comfort of the various interior spaces, the offices on all the different levels, the interior courtyards and landscaped patios, as well as the communal entrance areas, ground-floor coffee bar and client areas on the upper levels (spaces connecting together the building’s primary functions).