This is the award-winning textile factory that grows or shrinks depending on your point of view | ICON Design

This is the award-winning textile factory that grows or shrinks depending on your point of view | ICON Design
This is the award-winning textile factory that grows or shrinks depending on your point of view | ICON Design

Fashion uses transparencies to insinuate. They have been used constantly in dresses, t-shirts and lingerie since Yves Saint Laurent incorporated them into his haute couture collections in the sixties. And more than half a century later they have served as inspiration to convert a simple warehouse into a large design building. The project, precisely for a textile company, Mayoral, skips the limitations of logistics centers and moves away from the traditional straight lines of the industry to grow from curves. And it does so with a double skin that plays with opacity to let in just the necessary light, improve energy efficiency and discreetly show its own guts. The new distribution space of the Malaga company has monumental airs and even generates an optical effect that makes it grow or shrink depending on the point of view. Designed by the Malaga studio System Arquitectura Avanzada, its uniqueness has already been recognized in various awards.

The new logistics center would not make sense without the building next to it and which invites you to travel a few decades into the past. It was the headquarters of the old Intelhorce textile factory and was built between 1959 and 1963 by Ramón Vázquez Molezún and Manuel María Valdés. When Mayoral bought these lands in 2013, the property was abandoned and in poor condition, but it had protection for its compositional and linguistic values. It could not be demolished, only rehabilitated. System Arquitectura was the studio that won the competition to do that work. He did it with the promise of respecting its covers, healing its pathologies and, above all, giving the façade a new epidermis based on the image of a pleated skirt. An original proposal based on concrete panels weighing almost two tons that also manage to provide shade thanks to the composition they draw. Machinery from the aerospace industry had to be used to place them, but the result was excellent and success came soon. The work – respectful of the above but, at the same time, innovative – was nominated for the European Mies van der Rohe architecture awards, was among the five finalists for the best industrial building by ArchDaily and was recognized by Docomomo as an example of good practices.

The spiral staircase, formed by a single piece, is the only curved and sculptural element of the textile company’s new logistics center.Fernando Alda

The opportunity of recovering the old factory in Malaga was also a handicap when it came to expanding Mayoral’s facilities. The new large logistics space was to be built right next door, but practically double the height. “The volume of the new warehouse was going to cover the previous one. We could not disrespect or turn off the building that we had just preserved in that way. We had to find a solution so that this would not happen,” says Rafael Urquiza, founder of System Arquitectura Avanzada. His team solved it through textile inspiration. First, breaking the traditional square lines of the industrial warehouses with an arched façade, which has the installations with fabrics by the Bulgarian artist Christo as a reference. They draw five large arcs that are divided into many smaller ones to generate a surprising optical effect: no matter where you look, it seems that the height is always decreasing. The closest part looks imposing, but the furthest part, despite maintaining its constant 20 meters, offers the feeling of being at the same height as the renovated old factory, which barely exceeds ten. “With this formula, some surface area was lost, something of vital importance for an industry. But a lot was earned in design, just what Mayoral sells. I think that architecture is also marketing and they also saw it, we must be grateful for their risky bet,” Urquiza emphasizes. Night lighting also ensures that the effect of the arches is not lost at night.

This is how the old Intelhorce warehouse was located before its rehabilitation as a warehouse by Mayoral.Fernando Alda

The second key to the distribution space is its double skin and its exploration of textile transparencies. He does it twice. On the one hand, with an exterior envelope made up of micro-perforated zinc sheets – manufactured in Asturias – that play with opacity: depending on how the sun hits it, it becomes translucent and reveals its interior structure or it becomes completely opaque. Being white, in addition, it returns the most powerful radiation – the Malaga sun in summer is a lot of sun – and filters it inward, in such a way that artificial lighting is much less necessary. On the other hand, a few centimeters further inside there is another layer, composed of a 30 millimeter wide polycarbonate – brought from Álava – formed by hexagonal cells. This structure generates an air chamber that serves as thermal insulation and also waterproofs, but at the same time allows light to pass through.

Interior of the industrial building, built in the sixties by Manuel María Valdés and Ramón Vázquez Molezún, now rehabilitated.Fernando Alda

“The ship thus becomes a box illuminated from all sides, except for the roof, since overhead radiation can create problems in the automation system installed by Mayoral,” says Urquiza. In his memory there remain the number of tests, trials with prototypes and calculations – so large that not even the software used could with them – to find the perfect point to combine both skins – with 13,500 square meters of zinc sheet and 9,000 of polycarbonate – and to let in the exact light that was needed inside to improve efficiency. Furthermore, from the inside, they are almost invisible: it seems as if neither of those two layers existed, allowing the blue of the sky to be seen.

It seems that the logistics center is built at different heights, but it is an optical effect achieved by the arched design.Fernando Alda

A gigantic Lego

The building – built by Sando – was erected in 18 months thanks to a process of prefabricated pieces, some up to 32 meters, developed by the Galician company Metaldeza, which created them from a 3D model. They made 1,900 tons of tubular profiles, which were later sewn one by one in Malaga, as if it were a giant Lego, with thousands of screws. The interior is today a huge open space of more than 18,000 square meters with a small office area and six loading docks. An organic element also stands out. A large spiral staircase measuring 14 meters and made in one piece. Its only function is to allow access to the roof to carry out maintenance work, but it functions as a sculpture thanks to its curves, the only ones in the entire internal space of the property, which has won the ArchDaily award in the Best Applied Products category. (best product application) and was a finalist for best industrial building.

System Arquitectura has also designed the new Mayoral offices, already built, with all its elements designed from textures and colors related to nature. From the hexagonal-shaped luminaires to the use of wood, earthy colors and the presence of interior and exterior plant matter. Today the studio has a large part of its efforts reserved for the Malaga textile company, but it also develops other projects. Among them, the construction of a building in the Green Block – the future ecological neighborhood designed by the Malaga City Council – and a sports center in Rincón de la Victoria, as well as various designer homes on the Costa del Sol.

The second skin of the building is a micro-perforated zinc roof that also provides shade and cools.Fernando Alda
 
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