Competition Economic Service Center Souliga

Client: Chamber of Commerce of St.Maarten
Location: Phillipsburg, St. Maarten

Architecture
Living outdoors is one of the basic qualities of life in the Caribbean. Most people live and work on the ground floor. In our design this basic quality is brought into a multi-layer building by creating two patio’s and different terraces around which the offices are organized. In a town where public space, in the form of squares and parks, is limited these patios and terraces can be like an oases. They will work as places of connection.
Furthermore the organization of building mass around open patio’s maximizes the amount of daylight that can penetrate through the building, thereby creating a healthy working environment.

A place of encounter
Due to the rise of portable devices and the growth of cloud-based storage, work can be carried out at basically any location. Therefore more and more the offices are becoming places for serendipitous meetings and need to facilitate and encourage the unplanned encounters (Architectural Review August 2012). This international development corresponds with Caribbean culture in which most encounters are unplanned.
By designing a building where we facilitate these informal encounters through patios and terraces (with ample shade and a cool breeze) we have created a contemporary Caribbean office building.

Smart skin
The façade of the building consists of movable sunscreens that adapt to the position of the sun. These sunscreens reduce the amount of direct sun penetration and thereby reduce the heat load in the interior space. These same screens can be covered with a photovoltaic film and in that way can generate energy. Because there is an open space between the sunscreens and the glass window, that separates the inside from the outside, we are able to discharge the hot air that accumulates behind the sunscreen. The sunscreens will work as hurricane shutters when placed in the complete vertical position.