PKMN’s imaginative approach to rennovating an old industrial building in the Basque-region of Spain, turning it into a centre for sustainable business, resulted in a striking design at a low cost with impressive eco credentials
Spanish collective PKMN is repurposing a 1920s steel factory as an eco centre, while maintaining its industrial heritage as part of the Basque region’s history.
The 2,568sq m building, in the Basque region of Spain, was previously operated by Alan Steel Asset Management (ASAM) Steel. Now managed by Grupo Emaús Bidasoa, it incorporates a recycling centre, second-hand products retail area, reuse workshops, offices and educational spaces.
PKMN’s brief was to update the facility and create a contemporary image for it, while preserving the original reinforced concrete structure and existing fittings. The development needed to be low cost and adhere to the company’s sustainable ethos, as well as being fully reversible.
The first stage of the project was carried out between November 2013 and June this year. The building – now called I Am Recycled – was stripped back to its basic structure and the roof, windows, skylights and flooring was repaired. Temporary separation walls made from concrete blocks were installed, along with a new staircase, modular and industrial lighting systems, and standard industrial doors.
‘Supergraphics’ in a single, zingy green colour were introduced as part of Grupo Emaús’ corporate brand and as a reference to sustainable practices and recycling. The façade is stamped with a vast recycling symbol that reaches up the full height of the building, covering both the window glass and wall.
In the sales areas, the bottom two metres of the walls are left as raw concrete so the recycled goods stand out. The upper sections of the walls and the ceiling are painted green and act as a backdrop for the pre-existing elements such as the reinforced concrete grid and old drainpipes, previously used by the cutting machines.
Stage two, currently being initiated, centres around the concept of a ‘building within a building’. Offices, classrooms and social spaces are being created from the prefabricated elements of industrial greenhouse structures. These create reduced spaces within the main building that will economise on material resources and energy usage, and provide acoustic, security and natural light advantages. At the same time, the introduction of these structures allows a more generic treatment to be applied to the existing volume and spaces for larger-scale activities, such as storage and sales.
Open-pallet recycling systems and metal tubing has been used to construct shelving, displays, chairs and tables, as well as accommodate a lighting system and support posters, paintings and even a false ceiling to create a flexible space in the showroom.
Overall, PKMN estimates that the bi-climatic architecture, use of local renewable energy and high-efficiency air conditioning system it has installed will lead to economic and ecological saving of between 50% and 80% – the equivalent of €20,000 euros a year or 20 tonnes of CO2. Rainwater harvesting, used for fire systems, industrial cleaning and gardening, will save around 1.2m litres.