Space for innovation - Metalsa Research and Technology Building | The Plan
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Space for innovation - Metalsa Research and Technology Building


Space for innovation - Metalsa Research and Technology Building
By Phyllis Richardson -

The clients fabricate metal parts for major automotive manufacturers around the world. Their site is a massive industrial park in a sparsely populated area near the industrial hub of Monterrey, Mexico. The brief for the first phase of this ambitious project was to create an 11,000-square-foot research laboratory and warehouse space combined with 5,500 square feet of office space.
The project had two key requirements, both met with a series of clever responses. As the research area was also to be used for testing and developing prototypes, there was a need to maintain a degree of secrecy from the public. However the scheme also had to include offices and be suitable for visitors. So a primary challenge was to create some amount of openness while also protecting vital industrial processes from view. Another challenge was the site and the orientation. This is a warm region where temperatures are regularly above 35º C from April to September. The parcel of the industrial “campus” and the orientation of the building had already been determined, so it was up to the architects to make the best of a large building that had to be approached from the sunny Western side.
The answer for architect Lawrence Scarpa, of the California firm Brooks + Scarpa, was to establish two volumes, an oversized open rectangular space for the research laboratory and warehouse functions and a two-storey office block on a smaller footprint set perpendicular to and overlooking the larger facility. The roof structure is dynamic and envelopes both volumes in a wrapping gesture that allows for areas of natural light and blocks of solidity.
To create a personable main entrance the architects lined the façade with continuous glazed panels. But as this western elevation is hit with harsh afternoon sun, the roof was made to cantilever beyond the glass and fold down to extend a shaded approach to the building. Around the corner, a full curtain wall receives the...

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