Heim Balp Architekten has designed the new ASTORIA MCE industrial plant and company headquarters for the eastern markets in Timisoara, Romania. The complex is one of the two main sites for the production of professional coffee machines for Astoria, the historical brand of the italian coffe machine culture, and the world's third professional coffee machines manufacturer for production amount.
The MCE company, that belongs entirely to the Astoria Group, began its manufacturing activities in Timisoara at the end of 2002. With the construction of the new plant the production has strongly increased its production capacity. The design by Heim Balp Architekten meets the main client’s request for a new layout, so as to increase the daily production and provide a younger and more progressive attitude to the whole company image. Instead of moving and building a new facility, the original structure was kept but important interventions were implemented to improve its functionality and to renew workspaces, showroom and offices. The building program includes a new production line, logistics, new administrative and commercial offices as well as training areas and showrooms. The existing structures have been transformed and dedicated to dressing rooms and canteen for the personnel as well as to technical spaces.
The new MCE plant is conceived in two volumes: a seven-metre-high one-storey building hosting the production area and a two level building hosting offices, meeting rooms, a showroom and training spaces. The main public entrance gives access to a double height space where visitors are welcomed by the reception counter and the showroom ; offices and meeting rooms can be found on the upper floor, overlooking the large ground floor atrium.
“The office and public building on one side expresses the needs for representation of the company, being this location the expression of its products and values towards the clients and distributors,and on the other side meets the needs of efficiency and dynamism of its administrative department”, as the architects say.
The production area covers a 4000 sqm surface, so as to increase the daily production up to 100 coffee machines per day. “The production process and its new design follows the idea of the just in time cycle as far as the processing of the components that are required for the production line, where the necessary materials are shipped in when needed as the products are shipped out as soon as they are completed thus reducing to the maximum the needs for storage.
One of the key interventions has been the design of the facades, where the selection of materials defines a discontinuous combination of walls and glazed façades, as well as a red aluminum cladding, providing different levels of opacity to the whole volume. “We aimed to transform the building into a new significant landmark for Timisoara, visible from surrounding landscape and from the highway as well, in an industrial context lacking of visual references.” the architects explain.
The two buildings are visually connected and unified by the red metal cladding, changing in density according to the different building functions. At the ground level, the production area features a dense blind facade, while the showroom offers a public view on the company’s tradition thanks to the transparent glazed facade. The sun shading system gives the upper floor a semitransparent character and helps the natural ventilation of the building.
An essential materials palette has been selected for the interiors, contributing to remark the lightness and transparency of the architecture: wood paneling to add warmth in representative spaces, glazed partitioning for the offices, a concrete micro topping for the floors. All mechanical ducts and pipes are left exposed, thus emphasizing the overall industrial aesthetic, while light blue colorful accents are introduced in the offices furniture, contrasting the grey and white backdrop.