Meama coffee factory’s all-concrete facade folds to produce double curved geometry

Located on a highway connecting the city of Tbilisi (Georgia) to the airport, the site of this project by Giorgi Khmaladze Architects is sparsely developed. Surrounded by fields and pine trees, it houses the coffee production plant of Meama, its offices, coffee tasting and small coffee exhibits.

Inside, all programs are arranged in a continuous unobstructed space, with glass partitions as boundaries in between. From the highway, the building is a homogeneous concrete folded volume with no visible openings that would define its programs, on the back side it opens up towards the pine forest. From above, it blends into surroundings through a vast green roof, where occasional openings in forms of atriums, terraces and skylights bring natural light indoors. This reduces an impact of a large building footprint visible from the planes taking off and landing next to the site.

Given the prominent location, the city required a building that would escape the regular factory appearance, and the client’s intention was to create a strong visual identity for the newly created coffee brand. The program required spaces that would fit both the coffee production plant with its facilities and office space that would provide a variety of work space arrangements, meetings and socializing areas, both indoors and outdoors. Additionally, public areas which would include a coffee tasting cafe with small coffee exhibits.

As a response, a regular, box-like volume of a production plant required to serve the building’s primary purpose adjusts to program components by wrapping around them. It stays high where necessary to fit production equipment and lowers where possible. Same with the office zones, where the building shell wraps around work, meeting and rest spaces arranged on floors suspended on various levels. The three atriums as the light wells, and numerous skylights bring natural illumination to the work and shared spaces below. Each of the open air atriums is filled with plants to form small green outdoor spaces directly visible from all indoor areas.

From the highway, the monolithic mass with no visible openings adapted to the slope of the site is an object of curiosity. While its internal spaces are all oriented and opened towards the green park located on the back side and the sky by means of two terraces which are part of the green roof.

The all-concrete facade folds to produce double curved geometry. Its appearance changes during course of a day, following sun movement producing an interplay of light and shadows.

The central entrance is formed by a narrow gap produced by a lifted concrete shell leading into a large main lobby located between the two of the green atriums. The multilevel platforms for coffee exhibits and lounges are greeting visitors along the stairs and ramps leading to the coffee tasting cafe and the office spaces.

Underground level is mainly used for indoor parking and various storage and facilities.

The concrete structure with one way waffle slab spans up to 16 meters to create large unobstructed spaces. Steel floor slabs are suspended from the roof slab on various levels with use of steel rods. The cast in place concrete folded facade which ages well, is a double wall with insulating layer in-between. The 3,680 sqm green roof acts as an additional thermal barrier to the roof insulation. The roof is intended to grow vegetation found around the site with wild grasses and plants, to blend with the context and require less maintenance.

Design, info and images © Giorgi Khmaladze Architects

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