Sofia Airport Centre
A BUSINESS CENTRE WITH AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CONCEPT AND STYLISH DESIGN
The ambitious new development Sofia Airport Centre (SAC) sets new standards for office and logistics buildings in Bulgaria. The large-scale business park emphasises sustainability and eco-friendly design. Strategically positioned 300 metres away from the international Sofia Airport and on the junction of all major roads, Sofia Airport Centre ensures easy ground and air access for dynamic, forward-thinking companies. The plots close to the international Sofia Airport, which were farmland not long ago, seem to provide fertile soil for the development of logistics and office centres. Sofia Airport Centre, its 165,000 square metres of total built-up area making it the largest development, has a distinctive individual concept which incorporates three core elements: a 22,000 m2 Logistics Centre, a 100,000 m2 Class A Office Centre (LEED certified) and a 250-room high-quality hotel. The entire project will be executed in two stages. The first stage includes the construction of one office building and the three logistics buildings, the second the thirteen-storey hotel and the remaining three office buildings. The master plan and the architectural design were created by the Prague-based architecture firm Cigler Marani Architects, headed by Jakub Cigler and Vincent Marani. The master plan foresees a closed-type business park. All the buildings will be located along the perimeter of the plot, enclosing a large and rectangular landscaped inner courtyard with an artificial lake, in turn creating an inward-facing recreational area open to both employees and the general public. The thirteen-story hotel will create a vertical accent for the complex, facing the two parallel boulevards leading to the airport. The three horizontal, twenty-metre-high office volumes will be oriented north-south, with restaurants and large vestibules facing the courtyard.
The industrial logistics part is functionally positioned at the far end of the plot, with a separate delivery entrance. The completed logistics and office buildings have uniform modular bases to provide maximum flexibility for the tenants’ needs. The longitudinal office tract is interrupted by perpendicular volumes, adding plasticity to the building, but also providing maximum natural light to meet the requirements of the strict LEED certification, a widely recognised standard for measuring building sustainability. The structure of the building is also kept to a minimum by uniform round columns and internal rigid cores with evacuation staircases. The element façade of the office building, visible from the two boulevards, stands out with its simple appearance, which is unusual for Bulgarian architecture. Yet the high-quality, stylish glass and aluminium envelope is a persistent reminder that the secret is in the details. The ground floors are fully glazed to optically detach the building from the ground. On the upper floors, the rhythmic repetition of floor-to-ceiling glazing with thin, solid strips makes the façade look dynamic and slender. The façade is given diversity by repeating two base modules of almost the same size of 1250 x 3750 mm. One is fully glazed while the other consists of 50-cm-wide aluminium panels. The façade, based on the Reynaers system CW 86-EF/HI, had to fulfil various technical and design requirements.
It had to be adapted to the complex’s environmentally friendly concept, and it had to significantly reduce the noise coming from the airport and motorways. This resulted in the development of tailor-made profiles and accessories and a special design for the edges of the building. Acoustic and air-wind-water tests showed that the customised façade minimises the noise by 45 dB and has very good anti-seismic and high thermal insulation properties. The façade also helps reduce the building’s energy consumption due to the use of renewable sources of energy such as natural light, by double-glazed windows and dual-coated glazing. But the customisation of the CW 86-EF system was also initiated from an aesthetic point of view. The architects, who seem to pay careful attention to even the smallest detail, requested sharper edges on the façade profiles – so special profiles with 0.5 mm filleted edges were produced. Another intriguing detail designed by the architects is the concept for the natural ventilation of the façade. Instead of windows which can be opened, they designed ‘valves’ integrated into the aluminium strips of the façade. Sofia Airport Centre became a benchmark for sustainable and smart development in any aspect – from the initial macro concept to the micro details of the working process.