Green architecture today is slowly but surely progressing towards the mainstream in a most striking and unique fashion. We present here a model that meets the needs of the present by looking at the past, without compromising on the needs of the future.
Moving from built environments that produce a sea of unintended externalised impacts to knowing and taking responsibility for those impacts is how green buildings take root. The Research and Development Center for Adobe Systems in Noida by SWBI Architects draws the spotlight on this notion.
As the team informs, “the campus is conceived as a highly utilitarian and functionality driven office conceptualised with an energy and ecological conservation approach. The brief was to plan a world class campus for over 2000 IT professionals in an energy efficient sustainable office space spread over 7 acres with 2 phases.”
Working for a programming giant that treads on the tag line –‘Back to Basics’, SWBI Architects explain that, “Adobe is a Spanish word for sun dried clay bricks – a basic building block. Thus a basic design philosophy was adopted using terracotta as the primary material expressed in a modern style. Terracotta is the new age green material which not only provides the ethnicity but also renders the technical advantage that an architect looks for. Being maintenance free, insect resistant and fungus proof are just some of its green properties.”
The architects tell us, “The scale was a challenge; hence an extensive research of Adobe’s newly commissioned facilities was undertaken before arriving at the final design solution.” Each phase consists of large data center labs, meeting and collaborative spaces and security and ancillary support functions.
Placed in a T-shaped manner, Phase I and II overlook landscaped courts that create an inviting micro climate. The parking and services blocks are wisely tucked away so that they are not visible from the workspaces,which in turn helps reduce the reflective heat component emitted by vehicles.
A Distributed Privacy Framework Model allows creation of ‘me’ and ‘we’ spaces. The main spine runs through the entire campus and acts as a visual and physical buffer to the whole building. The ground floor houses the reception, cafeteria, training hall and library overlooking the pedestrian street.
While the Phase 2 Block Core, in the Western Zone helps cut down the sun, the central Atrium is provided with a skylight for enhanced penetration of daylight in workspaces.The outdoor recreational activity zone with an amphitheater and sports facilities, located in the North is shaded throughout the year in order to help achieve optimum light and shade. The extended horizontal parasol diminishes the high altitude South sun in summer and admits the low altitude winter sun.
The East and West façades showcase minimum use of glass; this creates a glare free work environment. It also helps minimise heat gain from the building skin. An expansive, sloping landscaped area serves as a forecourt space for the building, comprising of feature walls that support the roof parasol that lends shade. A bio wall traps air pollutants and aids in lowering the surrounding air temperature and reduces cooling loads. Terracotta tiled screens and the parasol provide shaded pedestrian walkways delivering comfort. The building’s green roof is optimised to trap heat and provide solar shielding.
The architectural team has suspended a well thought out system in place in order to reduce heat gain. Shaded curtain walling mediates between the interior and the exterior while reducing heat gain and harvests daylight, thereby reducing interior lighting demands. The use of Albino paint on the roof keeps the building cool by reflecting sunlight.
An RCC (Reinforced Cement Concrete) structure with PT (Post-Tensioned) slabs assists in sound insulation. The use of AAC (Autoclaved Aeratad Concrete) Blocks, also tagged the green building blocks, render fire resistance and acoustic friendly components.
Apart from these passive measures, chilled beams help deploy radiant cooling while sensor based LED lighting helps conserve electricity. Ventilation through fresh air and water conservation through waterless urinals, dual flushing and re-cycling of water in irrigation are some of the other active measures that have been incorporated.
Since the water table is high and direct ground water recharge is not possible, rooftop rainwater harvesting, capacity rainwater storage tanks and reuse of water for other plumbing applications add to the sustainability of the building. A solar hot water system generates hot water in toilets while instantaneous LPG boilers are used in kitchens. An underground HSD oil storage tank meets a week long oil requirement.
SWBI Architects explain, “We take a proactive approach focused on the concern for energy efficiency, environmental management, water management, renewable energy, waste management and recycling.” Taking this approach, the Adobe Campus is without doubt a standing vocabulary of a language that coins it a LEED platinum rated ‘living building’!
With this approach, the Adobe Campus is without doubt a more than fitting example of a LEED platinum rated ‘living building’!
Text By Kanupriya Pachisia
Photographs Courtesy Kapil Kamra