BASF Headquarters, Mexico City Building, Mexican Architecture, Architect, Image
BASF Headquarters : México Office Architecture
Mexican Office Building – design by Space
11 Jan 2013
BASF Office Building
Location: Insurgentes Sur, Colonia Ciudad de los Deportes, Mexico City
SPACE ARCHITECTS BRINGS NEW LIFE TO BASF HEADQUARTERS IN MEXICO CITY
A new office for world-leading chemical company BASF in Mexico City, designed by Juan Carlos Baumgartner of architect Space, has brought new approaches to working to his home country, and saved the client both money and space.
By researching the needs of the customer, the architect has allowed it to operate more effectively in its 5,000 sq metre existing building, avoiding the disruption of moving as well as finding a new use for a building that seemed to have come to the end of its life. And Baumgartner has improved the performance to such an extent, that the refurbished headquarters has satisfied the internationally acclaimed US LEED standard for sustainability, reaching the Gold standard. At the same time it has just won a gong at the 2012 American Property Awards.
‘The client owned the building,’ Baumgartner explained, ‘and didn’t want to sell it but they felt that it had become too small, so they were planning to tear it down and rebuild it, with all the disruption that would have brought.’ He realised that many of the workers were constantly moving around in the building rather than simply sitting at their desks – attending meetings and involved in other activities. ‘So,’ Baumgartner explained, ‘we did an analysis of how people used the space.’
As a result of this he has introduced a considerable amount of desk sharing, at the same time creating a range of informal social and working spaces, including a cafe setting where many people feel comfortable either touching down to work or holding impromptu meetings. Dedicated spaces have been made as flexible as possible, with meeting rooms and dining spaces that can be reconfigured as single spaces or a number of discrete environments.
There are notes of bright colour in flooring and partitions. Asymmetric ceiling treatments and positioning of lighting give a dynamic feel to the spaces, making this deliberately a world away from a typical bland office fit-out. Large murals highlight the chemistry that sits behind BASF products – a response to a brief that asked Baumgartner to help to convey the excitement and importance of chemistry to both the workforce and visitors.
The architect has carried through the use of colour to the exterior of the building, signalling that this is a special place through a chequerboard effect of bright primary coloured Trespa panels, in BASF Pantone colours, applied to the north wing of the building. The curtain walling has been stepped out from the facades on glass fins, to give a floating effect, High-performance glazing limits solar gain, just one of the ways that the reconfigured building minimises its environmental impact.
Others include the use of water-saving devices in the bathrooms, recycling of grey water for toilet flushing and for use in the air conditioning system, and the addition of insulation to the original frame of the building.
This higher environmental performance is one of the advantages that the client enjoys, but there are others. Disruption has been kept to a minimum, avoiding the costs and loss of staff morale that would have been associated with vacating the building for at least 18 months to allow for demolition and reconstruction. And, far from being tight for space, the client has found that it does not need to occupy all of the seven floors and will be able to lease out two of them.
Neither has the construction itself been hugely expensive. Baumgartner has used relatively standard materials in imaginative ways, and has only employed expensive finishes in limited areas – for instance the use of marble on floors on the ground floor, to give a luxurious impression to visitors. This is typical of construction in Mexico, where, says Baumgartner, ‘We have been living in an economic crisis for the last 40 years. Mexican clients tend to have much smaller budgets for the projects they do in Mexico and Latin America than when they build in other parts of the world. As a result I think that Mexican architects have a lot to teach the world.’
BASF Headquarters – Building Information
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN: SPACE – Juan Carlos Baumgartner, Gabriel Téllez Galindo
PARTNERS: Humberto Soto, Enrique Martínez, Yuri Rodríguez, Elena Schneider
PROJECT DATE: April – December 2011
LOCATION: Insurgentes Sur, Colonia Ciudad de los Deportes, Mexico City
PHOTOGRAPHY: Courtesy of BASF
Area: 5,000 m2
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