2015 – 2019
COMPETITION: 1st Prize
render by metroarea
The Sohar Facility Center is a building that has two main identities: on one side it is an office tower with requirements for great leasing space and quality working areas, on the other side it is a commercial basement, almost a shopping mall that requires easy identification from the street and easy access.
When we started the design phase, we considered these elements as priorities, but we also wanted our building to be solid, sustainable and cheap to run. So we looked to history and tradition, and Oman has a fascinating history of commerce and markets. Some of Oman souqs are the most ancient in the whole Arab world.
We then thought that our basement should be a contemporary souq.
But Oman is also a land of modernity and progress. Its people have traveled and conquered half of the Indian Ocean. Ahmad Ibn Majid helped the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama in completing the first all water trade route between Europe and India. Oman would not be Oman without the sea.
So we decided that the Office tower should be inspired and animated by the waves of the sea and should reflect the great leap of the Omani people when they embarked on the route to infinity.
Thus our building is a superimposition of a contemporary souq and a modern tower. It reflects the soul of Oman, the relationship between tradition and modernity, the relationship between mountain and sea.
In order to identify the entrance, we have inserted a cut in the facade, providing at the same time for a vertical void through the building, from the roof to the main lobby,
a simplified ‘wind tower’ that will provide for light and natural ventilation.
The building is organized in a very simple and effective way in accordance with the requests of the client. The structure is regular and uses almost the whole lot. There are two central cores that provide the vertical access throughout the building. They host all the elevators the emergency stairs.
There is an underground parking for 130 cars with extra large 3x5m parkings, suitable for SUVs. There is also included an area for maintenance and washing of vehicles. Workers will access the building directly from here.
The ground floor and first floor host the commercial area. There is a main lobby with a scenic round stair, accessible directly from the main entrance, that connects to virtually all the activities.
The nursery has a separate access for drop-off of babies with reserved parking in front, in order to simplify access from mothers and outside employees. On the north side there is a separate VIP entry with drop-off that is also suitable for PEIE members that come through a pedestrian path from the adjacent building. The VIP entrance has a direct access to the core and also to the special functions that are placed on the last floor, like a ‘club’ and the auditorium that are closely connected.
In the front there is an open air parking for visitors with extra large 3x5m parkings.
In the back there is the service entrance, that is accessible separately with a service road and service parking for the vehicles. It has been thought so that all the supplies for the shops or for the relocation of the offices is taken care here on the back road. This area host also the dumpster for the trash of the whole building, and other service spaces.
The offices are placed from 2nd to 6th floor. They are organized on a ring around the central void in order to maximize natural lighting. the offices are completely open space (without columns) so to have maximum flexibility. We have considered the possibility to divide the floor in different configurations, up to 6 companies per floor but there could be up to 20 companies per floor or even more, since there is complete flexibility without limits in the design.
As mentioned before there is a VIP area at the top. This area has offices, a large meeting room and a club, and it is intended to host VIPs and for PEIE members for organizational purposes. This area, effectively, has a quick access to the auditorium and could easily be used to accommodate guests or for catering during the events.
The most evident technical device of the building is the outside shell. It is carved like a traditional moucharaby with a geometric pattern and provides for a solar filter for the whole building.
An interesting aspect of this shell is that the facade in the back can be built with a traditional insulated opaque system thus maximizing the energy saving.
Another very interesting aspect of the shell is that it will be equipped with gratings thus creating a protected external passage that would be perfect for maintenance purposes. The personnel could easily access all the windows and glazing for cleaning purposes but also the mesh could be easily maintained and cleaned from sand residues, even if it’s vertical arrangement will not provide any space for sand to accumulate.
The technical machinery will be positioned on the roof behind the shell extension so that they will be also protected by the sun and not visible from the ground.