Quala S.A., a Colombian company, owns a processing plant located in Dominican Republic, a few kilometers from its capital city, Santo Domingo. The project included the creation of a production plant, warehouses, laboratories, public services and office space, distributed in 24,900 m2, along with a landscape design for its 6.5 hectares (16 acres) site.
The aforementioned group of buildings represents an adequate response to the challenges typically associated with the industrial processes, taking extra steps to accommodate the worker’s needs. Through a comprehensive analysis of the staff’s access and egress paths, the project understands and optimizes motion along every stop, from arrival to the factory, to settling into a specific job post, as well as product manufacturing and subsequent shipping to the dealers. This results in both a superior working environment, and better product storing and handling.
Located in a warm weather region, the factory is thought out from the very beginning to be deemed as “sustainable architecture”. The project interacts with important factors such as the surroundings, the activity, its proximity to Arroyo Porquero (a nearby water stream), the influence of sunlight and wind, and the prospect of future growth. An understanding of the variables intrinsic to the location determines the space distribution within the facilities, and their placement on the northern side of the site, generating a wide, clear zone that isolates the buildings from the Sanchez Highway.
Being the closest ones to this avenue, the plant’s offices and casino are the most visible ones from the city side. The warehouses, however, are found in the background, taking advantage of the eastern winds for ventilation and fresh air supply purposes. To accomplish this, several climate-controlling devices are brought into play, such as thermal siphons and solar protection treatments.
A separate building houses the production machine maintenance and utility rooms, therefore keeping excessive heat and energy away from the warehouses. Although both the roof and elevation work protect the building from the weather (in a region commonly threatened by intense hurricanes), an adequate use of the natural elements helps in cooling the interior spaces.
The most prominent buildings were built in white concrete, with two construction systems put into effect. While the offices and the casino were built traditionally, with the core structure poured on-site with formwork, the warehouses benefited from a flexible modular system known as “tilt-up”. This method consists in pouring huge panels that will be subsequently hoisted up and matched with each other. As a result, the assembled structural walls support themselves, and the floor and roof slabs as well. This fast-paced system allows efficiency and flexibility in the event of future modifications where additional panels are necessary, as required by an ever-changing market. This is a very important factor to consider, as the company starts to grow throughout different parts across the region