A new landmark in Beirut: a powerful identity based on open interaction between cultures and between modernity and tradition.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Tra Pierre Gemayel e Emile Lahoud, arterie veloci che tagliano la “greater Beirut” da nord a sud nella parte orientale della città, il nuovo Headquarter della società Holcom è un grande edificio di 7 livelli fuori terra tra nucleo urbano e vista sulle colline. Il progetto di L22 e DEGW si inserisce inizialmente in uno schema strutturale già in parte determinato, ma aggredisce da subito la profonda (e non facile) geometria del lotto con un concept architettonico che segue alcuni principi privilegiati: l’equilibrio tra valorizzazione delle superfici e massima vivibilità degli spazi; la razionale gestione dei flussi interni ed esterni; l’ottimizzazione di tutti gli aspetti energetici e ambientali uniti a una rappresentatività architettonica.
Il tema ambientale è di primaria importanza. La facciata, innanzitutto: pur immerso nella forte intensità luminosa di Beirut, il progetto dell’involucro è studiato per massimizzare il day-lighting, riducendo così l’uso di luce artificiale, e allo stesso tempo proteggere dall’irraggiamento solare le superfici esposte. Un pacchetto formato da due sottosistemi: un curtain wall vetrato e continuo, posizionato a 20 cm oltre il bordo di soletta per fare spazio a una fascia di coibentazione termica e acustica efficace, e una schermatura esterna che avvolge l’edificio modulando ad hoc la propria densità. Questa, elaborata con l’aiuto di un software specifico, è costituita da diversi elementi di grigliato metallico più un elemento cromato che, aggregati fuori opera in cinque sequenze differenti (famiglie), formano moduli eterogenei che creano insieme un effetto pixel randomizzato in facciata: il tutto è “casuale”, visivamente, ma del tutto mirato dal punto di vista del controllo solare. Tale pelle esterna punta infatti su tre obiettivi: creare un effetto di variazione serializzata, dare unità all’articolazione volumetrica dell’edificio e ottenere ovunque un fattore solare ≤ 0,1. Ne risulta un pattern dinamico che stempera la massa dell’edificio alleggerendo il solido basamento del piano terreno rivestito con pietra locale.
Volumi e aree aperte.
Dietro questo “vestito”, il corpo dell’edificio è il risultato di accurati movimenti volumetrici, sempre attenti al comfort ambientale. A partire dal piano terra, dove Hall d’ingresso e caffetteria sono accompagnate da vasche d’acqua a equilibrare i tassi di umidità; al terzo livello l’edificio si scompone in tre parti: quella centrale arretra in un’ala di collegamento e crea due ampie terrazze alberate, mentre alle estremità si sviluppa in due blocchi uffici distinti, anch’essi alleggeriti da patii interni come vettori d’aria e luce naturale; infine, al top dell’edificio, i blocchi terminano in due Penthouse (che ospitano le funzioni executive e training dell’organizzazione) collegate tra loro dal corpo centrale (anche qui con vasche d’acqua interne) e in una terrazza panoramica, il tutto coronato da una struttura di copertura in acciaio che supporta pannelli fotovoltaici.
Layout e flussi.
Le sottrazioni e tripartizioni dei volumi, oltre a dare più luminosità e vivibilità allo spazio interno, definiscono anche i flussi pubblici e privati, separando ad ogni livello le client area (tutte nei corpi mediani di collegamento) dagli spazi ufficio, a cui sono connesse solo attraverso un filtro: quello dei nuclei di supporto che diventano il tessuto connettivo delle diverse funzioni aziendali. Uno schema che ha permesso layout di piano lineari ed efficienti, organizzati sul modulo funzionale di 1,5 metri che ordina tutti gli elementi in un sistema coerente e flessibile, a partire dal controsoffitto che segue e accompagna il modulo con una struttura a telaio multifunzionale che ospita partizioni in vetro, corpi illuminanti e altre componenti (aerazione, tende, barriere acustiche) tutte riposizionabili, seguendo un principio di flessibilità nel tempo.
The new Holcom Headquarter is a 7storey building at the edge of the city but with a view on hills . L22 and Degw project uses the strange shaped parcel following some principles : balance between surfaces' best enhancement and maximum liveability; rational management of internal and external fluxes; optimization of all energy and environment issues, and architectural representativeness.
Environment issue is one of the main topic. Façade first of all: the building is immersed in the striking Beirut light so envelope is designed to maximize day lighting and to reduce artificial light consumption and to protect exposed surfaces from sun. The case of the building is a package made by two layers : a glazed and continuos curtain wall 20 cm far from the edge to let space for an acoustic and thermal insulation band, and an external metal screen elaborated thanks to a software repeatings 5 patterns wrapping the building creating a pixel effect.
This “ skin” unifies the building contrasting with the stone cladded basement.
At ground level in the hall and in the cafeteria we find water basin to balance humidity high levels. At the third level the building splits in three parts. The central one become just a connection one and lets space to two large terraces . At the edges we find two offices volumes with their own internal patios to carry air and light; on top of the building the two offices volumes end with two penthouses and a large terrace with a iron roof structure supporting photovoltaic panels.
Clients' areas find place in the central connection volume . A 1,5 meter module organizes all the elements in a coherent and flexible system, starting from counterceiling with a multifunctional structure hosting glass partitions, lights, curtains, ventilation systems, that can be repositioned.
This flexibility principle guided a plan to enhance all the building spaces whose depth could be adapted to temporary functions to always being able to answer future necessities.
Holcom Headquarter A new landmark in Beirut: a powerful identity based on open interaction between cultures and between modernity and tradition. 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...
- Year 2015
- Work started in 2010
- Work finished in 2015
- Main structure Reinforced concrete
- Client Holcom sal
- Contractor Abniah s.a.r.l.
- Status Current works
- Type Corporate Headquarters