Location: Centro Empresarial Zona Pradera, Guatemala City
Architects/Interior designers: Studio Domus
General contractor: Studio Domus
Consultants: Medio Ambiente (LEED ®), Aktiva (Technology), Elizabeth Porres (Lighting), Genetec (Electrical), Carrier-Caelsa (A/C)
Project area: 14,634 sq ft / 1,360.04 m2
Project year: 2011
Photographs: Alejandro de León
Puma Energy and Studio Domus have marked the beginning of a trend in sustainable offices along the Central American region, being this the first project in the country certified LEED ® CI Gold (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Commercial Interiors, Gold category).
After Trafigura, owners of the brand Puma Energy, bought all Esso gas stations in Central America from their competitor Exxon, it all took a turn to fuse both operations under the Puma brand, which is why it was necessary to create new headquarters in each country that had both companies.
When the time came to confirm through their representative in London this architectural firm as the one in charge of design and construction, it was established that they had to comply with the highest standards for an international office. The client's requirements did not only exceed the average in the country but it seemed like they wanted to set an unreachable standard for their followers. Nothing in this office is conventional, because they have a needs program that must be met entirely so that their implacable quality was the same from Europe to Africa to America. The most important thing to achieve was a 100% functional-flexible space, a highly technological office and the highest quality in the smallest detail.
It all started with the selection of a building with a completely open lobby, the firm proposed to personalize it so that when the client stepped out of the elevator he knew he was at Puma. The client needs program was a written manual with no limit to the design, to which the designers responded with a creative, daring proposal in line with the European use of white. The audacity of the officeâ's design is anticipated by the lobbyâs desk that could only be made in white Corian and framed by a white band that comes out of the floor, and reaches the ceiling in the lobby to finish in the opposite wall, all of it accentuated by green LED lights (typical in gas stations).
This company is in the process of international expansion, buying and opening markets mainly in Asia, Africa, and America, which is why the sophisticated application of technology is essential in each headquarter. This space applies the open space philosophy in a fundamental way, because it has only one private office and the other 110 workstations are in the same common area, with no distinction of hierarchy. To compensate this openness acoustic ceilings and modular carpets were placed throughout the office. The desks are mounted on an elevated floor to give total flexibility to the wiring in case of a reconfiguration that would allow their installed capacity to easily grow 25%.
The open work space has large double glass windows that allow 90% of the employees to enjoy the view, and 75% of them to access natural light. Additionally, the ultrasonic and infrared sensors placed in the ceiling turn the LED lights on and off automatically in this area, since there is not a single light switch in the entire office. The users have control of the blinds and the air conditioning thermostats which gives more comfort to their interior space. As a redundancy, in case that an operation in a neighboring country suffers a catastrophe and their headquarters are inhabitable, the Herman Miller type bench furniture has a surface with no intermediate legs, which allows duplicating the workstations placing an additional chair instead of the mobile filing cabinets of each desk.
The furniture's white surfaces show in a visible way a clear difference between the internal use environments, compared with the ones with light wood which the clients frequent. The regional managerâs office keeps the aesthetic line but modifies the chairs and furniture to make this a first class space.
Only the clientâs meeting room possesses the same standard of furniture and chairs as the managerâs office. The meeting room has an additional technological distinction, because besides being automated with a Savant control it allows the use of video conference, quick connectivity, and multiple projections all controlled simply by an iPad.
For a project to be certified LEED CI Gold, it has to comply with a minimum of qualifications from the selected location of the offices, the efficient use of energy, use of water, the sustainable quality of the materials used for the project, and the appropriate interior comfort for their occupants. LEED ® is a demanding sustainable program, and rating system, adopted worldwide that evaluates and audits each of the pre-requisites and credits Puma Energy applied to achieve this prestigious recognition.
These offices achieved approximately 35% of potable water savings, the appropriate selection of efficient faucets and waterless urinals. Lighting was benefitted by the use of LED lamps that allowed an elevated illumination energy saving of 58%; more than 84% of the computers and electrical appliances purchased were Energy Star; 18% of the chosen materials had recycled content such as the Shaw Contract & Interface carpets, Tate elevated floors, and Herman Miller and Geiger furniture. 80% of the wood bought was FSC guaranteed to be from controlled forests; all of the disposed materials from the worksite such as metal and cardboard (aluminum posts, cables, wires, etc.) were sold to recycling companies; all of the paint used on the walls has no volatile organic compounds (it is usually used in first class hospitals and labs); all this congruently accompanied by a disability friendly design throughout the premises.
This office not only represents the beginning of a new era of sustainable corporate interiors in the country, but also redefines the way to build office spaces, creating a change all the way from planning to the last detail based on green architectural standards that can be quantified and measured after its occupancy. Behind the project it is necessary to count on a large number of specialists focused on the common objective of taking advantage of the natural resources without compromising the comfort of the human being.
The paradigm that all sustainable projects need to have a vernacular ecological aspect counters with the sophisticated aesthetic and technological result that Puma Energy Guatemala achieved in their new offices.