Center for Information Comperj in Itaboraí – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The headquarters of the Center for Information of Comperj in Itaboraí play a key role in the future petrochemical complex that Petrobras will implement in the region. The CI will be the gateway to the site. Therefore, the new building has to represent very clearly the values that the company defends, including modernity as well as social and environmental responsibility. The strategy adopted to achieve this goal is based on three fundamental concepts.

The first parameter concerns the occupation of the territory. The implantation of the building (especially its relation to the Convent of St. Bonaventure), the design of squares and gardens and the choice of materials not only respond to the needs of the CI but also reveal the characteristic features of the surrounding landscape of the East Basin of Guanabara Bay.

The second parameter has to do with the idea of the building as an autonomous object inserted into the landscape, integrating itself into the environment without significantly altering the topography. This resulted in the design of an object «landing» delicately on the ground. The shape is simple, but powerful due to the scale and design of the building.

Finally, the third concept that guided our project decisions involves the use of a clear and rational structural system and measures to ensure a good bio-climatic performance and sustainability of the building.

The occupation of the territory

The building organizes and gives a new meaning to the territory on which it is inserted. Located at the limits of the site and at the same altitude as the ruins of the Convent, the building will change the way people percept the place, as it forms a triangle with the existing architectural elements on the site.

Visitors will reach the new building on a slightly elevated walkway from which the square of the museum can be observed. The geometry of the square defines the spacial composition of the complex. Its ground is made of gravel and water. The pool of water refers to the abundance of water in the region – in this case, representing the first stage of the collection of coastal waters, located in the uplands. The gravel represents the rocks that make up the soil of the region – as if «gravel trees» would flourish and compose the square.

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Responding to the very heterogeneous landscape of the region, we chose to create densely wooded areas in strategic places on the site, especially close to site access and parking. Native trees will be chosen, which are part of the vegetation characteristic for the Atlantic Forest.

The building

The simple geometry of the building adapts perfectly to the topography of the site, and at the same time marks a contrast to the elements of the ruins of the Convent. The architecture appears light and transparent. The complexity arises from the various «densities» that the facade takes on depending on the light hitting its surface. The program is distributed naturally throughout the internal spaces. The great hall is located right at the entrance of the building, where it serves as a meeting and distribution space for the entire CI and where the surrounding landscape can be viewed (especially the ruins of the Convent). To the south, the administrative wing. To the North, the museum and the library occupy the larger spaces with a great floor-to-ceiling height, from where the mezzanine offers a privileged view. The more specific spaces – spaces of assembly such as the auditorium, the 3D Room and the video conference room – occupy a separate volume adjacent to the main building, responding to the individual characteristics of these spaces. There are shaded porches throughout the whole length of the building that act as observation platforms to view the landscape.

Structure and Eco-Efficiency

The adopted structural system – composed primarily by the steel structure and industrial components for roofing, facades and light walls – allows for a fast and accurate, highly rationalized construction. This brings more control over the process and less waste. There will be wood flooring in the exposition spaces and a raised floor system in the administrative areas and in the assembly spaces. The horizontal blinds will be made of wood from reforestation areas (using fast-growing tree species), while the shading panels protecting the facades will be made of stainless steel, taking advantage of the durability and low maintenance required by the material.

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The orientation of the building – East / West – determined some decisions during the design process in order to control sunlight and to take advantage of natural lighting and ventilation. As mentioned above, the verandas located on the east and west facades create a zone of protection for the interior of the building. The screen and the horizontal blinds block excessive sunlight and reduce wind speed. At the same time the glass facade allows for the entry of natural light filtered properly. The glass facade can be opened, if the activities thus permit, providing cross-ventilation of the interior spaces. (In any case, an undesirable accumulation of heat inside the building will be reduced, which will improve considerably the performance of air conditioning systems.)

We propose the installation of systems for the reuse of water for irrigation of gardens and for the toilets. We also propose considering the use of photo voltaic panels to generate a part of the energy used in the building. This equipment would be located on the roof of the pavilion, increasing the efficiency of systems and helping to strengthen the image of the building. Other technical equipment (central cooling unit, substation, generator, water tank and central treatment plant) were distributed on the site according to the specific needs of each group.

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