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This facility is intended to be a flagship for the innovative industrial production of cast aluminium products including wheel rims and automotive parts. The technology for this process allows for minimum waste and a very high degree of precision using highly calibrated and automated machinery. Pure aluminium is melted and then processed by various machines along a mechanized line and aluminum wheel rims are produced. The building is intended to be a testing facility for this patented process where minor adjustments are made to the line to find the optimum combination for speed, quality and economy. For reasons of confidentiality, the drawings cannot show the machinery layout within the plant area.

The building is located in the new Technological Park, which is currently being developed in the area known locally as Wallerfield. This was the largest military airbase in the Western Hemisphere during the Second World War and was used exclusively by the American Forces, before being abandoned in the Fifties. The building is located within the zone allocated for light industrial use in the Master Plan. It is the intention of the Developer to build related Plants to the east and west of the Research and Development Centre.

The brief comprises the plant area required to accommodate technical functions plus offices and support spaces for staff and researchers, a public lobby and waiting area for visitors who may be interested in viewing and/or purchasing the technology. The total number of workers is anticipated to be less than 30.

The design intent is to create a building, which not only provides a highly efficient layout, but which also provides well ventilated environmental conditions without refrigeration or mechanical air distribution systems. The area for the plant comprises 2 parallel bays, each 24 metres wide and 120 metres long, with steel columns at 7.6 metre intervals.

Flanking the northern edge of the plant area is the double height reception area, with video display wall, and offices and other staff facilities on 2 levels. These are accessed via a free-standing stair set in the reception area. These spaces have oblique views to the protected Moriche Palm area to the northeast. Access for heavy vehicles such as trucks is provided to the south along the improved and widened Tobago Road. Access to the public face of the building is via the new Alutech Road. Heavy traffic is therefore prevented from entering the main Park.

Some of the machinery is extremely large over 11 metres high above slab level, with an additional 3 metres below ground. These are located in the most southern bay and provide the opportunity for a dramatic silhouette and an efficient shape for encouraging the movement of air across the entire shop floor. The entire building is modeled as if it were an extrusion.

The structure is a lightweight steel frame, with castellated steel beams to give the long spans required, The plant envelope comprises 2 main elements – overlapping corrugated panels set off a sub-frame to allow air to flow between, plus louvers formed by angles metal z-purlins. The corrugated panels are either formed by standard alu-zinc sheets finished in different hues of green factory-applied PVF2 paint or by translucent panels, which allow the building to be substantially lit using natural daylight. The roof is highly insulated to minimise the effects of the sun. The roof covering is also metal sheeting on z purlins.

On the northern facade there is a large pond, which stores rainwater from the lower roof, which pours directly into it. This water is then used for irrigation purposes. The facade of the office and reception area is either glazed with grey glass or with alumium sandwich panels.

Services to the various pieces of machinery are generally run in floor trenches for ease of access for maintenance and to accommodate change. Where possible building products are chosen for their green credentials as well as durability, availability and economy. A small amount of waste is produced at this facility, which is locally treated and stored before being taken away for safe disposal. This Project is at the end of Production Information Stage.

Alutech,
Trinidad

Design Team: Jenifer Smith, Celiwe Villiers, Declan Luk Pat