POWERICA is a manufacturer of diesel generators. Being a company involved in the energy business they were keen to project their sensitivity to being energy-efficient. The design of their new regional office and service centre that was constructed in Chennai in the Guindy industrial estate explores various cost effective solutions with this objective in mind. Passive design solutions such as maximizing the glazing on the north and south faces and eliminating windows on the east and west were incorporated to reduce heat gain and bring in glare-free natural light. They also determined the orientation and location of facilities within the building. All the service facilities were grouped together on the west shielding the office areas that were air conditioned from the western sun.
Air conditioning is the single largest power consumer in office buildings. Therefore apart from reducing the heat load through design solutions mentioned earlier, it was necessary to actively pursue other innovative solutions. Rather than provide the 22°C ± 2°C as specified in manuals it was decided to examine the issue more objectively as to what are the conditions required for creating a comfortable office environment. As we all know comfort is a combination of various factors such as temperature, humidity and air movement. If the relative humidity can be held down to 60%, then with a higher air flow, one could feel comfortable even at 28°C as the airflow reduces the surface temperature of one's skin through evaporative cooling.
The solution was to combine an air conditioning system that delivered a room temperature of 28°C and 60% Rh., with ceiling fans distributed uniformly over the entire floor and run at a low speed. A perforated grid ceiling was used to integrate the whole system visually with the lighting grid to create an interesting interior. The bottom surface of the roof slab was insulated to provide the necessary acoustical damping that was lost due to the grid ceiling. The reduced air-conditioning tonnage achieved by this would not only result in major savings in the capital cost of equipment, but also in long term energy savings in operations. The saving in capital equipment was not limited to air-conditioning alone, but also in the cost of electrical transformers due to a reduction in its capacity. Further savings were also possible in charges payable to electricity authorities for service connections and other deposits.
Architecturally the building responds to the site. It is a corner site where the north and east sides form an acute angle. The lower two floors are parallel to the main road on the north, while the upper floors are aligned to the east creating the impression of two overlapping structures. In the process a terrace is formed at the second floor level for landscaping.
Client : Powerica
Area : 1600 sq m
Location : Chennai
Role : Architectural & Engineering Design and Project Management