The Azahar Group is in the business of environmental sustainability, providing gardening services, waste recycling and environmental consultancy as well as doing its bit to support art and cooperation with the Third World. OAB, the architecture practice of Carlos Ferrater, has designed a highly distinctive complex for Azahar’s new headquarters. Although a landmark on the landscape, the three units - glasshouses and nursery plots; a plant and services building, and offices - nonetheless blend well with the environment. The irregular geometrical white profile echoes the mountain peaks in the background. Sleek “folding” lines create an interplay of light and shadow that changes during the day and with the seasons making for a refined piece of architecture. Oriented on an east-west axis, the complex comprises two wings that converge on a central volume built around two courts surrounded by protective patios. Both patios and orientation combine to ensure natural light penetrates far into the building reducing to a minimum the need for artificial lighting. The volumes containing the various operational divisions converge on a main hall that is both an exhibition space and the departure point for the interior circulation. The atrium receives zenithal light from a large north-facing skylight. As well as ensuring energy efficiency, the all-enveloping insulating cladding on walls and roof is also a key architectural feature. The 250 m service and plant building houses changing rooms, work stations and plant rooms. Its sloping green roof provides a pleasing backdrop for the offices.
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