Water-based workplace

12 Sep 2012

Nabil Gholam Architects have completed their latest mid-rise office building- the CMA- CGM Headquarters, which implements water and sunlight to promote serenity

The recently completed CMA-CGM Headquarters, designed by Nabil Gholam Architects, overlooks Beirut and its port, with views across the Mediterranean to the mountains which lay beyond it. The space occupies 6 floors at 6 300 sq-m, and a further 4 basements at 4 800 sq-m.

This mid-rise transparent structure houses the office space of the world’s third largest container shipping company. The building acts as a catalyst to the future development of the area, while remaining sensitive to its immediate surroundings in terms of street alignment.

Three carefully detailed glass prisms are intersected by a full-height atrium and slide against each in this project by the Lebanese company, whose portfolio is dominated by urban design and office buildings. The prisms follow a rational design concept that allows for the greatest efficiency and flexibility in space planning- 81% of floor plates are virtually clear of any columns obstructing the views or the furniture layouts.

While the building offers a distinctive sculpted profile, all office plates are set on standard planning grids, allowing them to readily accommodate the market’s standard partitions, furniture and fittings. The building features many environmental and aesthetically- pleasing installations. The ground floor exhibition space is designed around a serene-looking 40m long water wall, and a ‘reflection pool’, which filters and ripples the street views from the lobby, bringing a calm to the workspace, and referring back to the the company’s maritime heritage.

Innovative facade concepts are supplemented with fixed vertical Pietra Serena stone sun screens shading elements on the south-western side, and the ventilated screen facade facing north-east and north-west. Sunlight supply through the highly glazed facade reduces the need for artificial lighting, and therefore the associated cooling consumption.

Photovoltaic panels covering the roof uses daylight to heating the water for bathrooms and kitchens and electricity support, making this a highly sustainable project by NGA. Rain water is collected and used for irrigation and re- circulated to feed grey water networks. Operating costs will be reduced for the company whilst comfort remains one of the key foci for employees.

Samantha Morley

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