The Hobbits of The Shire knew what they were doing when they started to build their houses into the sides of hills: not only is it a beautiful sight, but it keeps heating and cooling to a minimum. Seems like the Foster + Partners have taken a leaf out of the Shire building codes for the new McLaren Production Centre.
The massive sprawling building is dug partially into a hill, giving it a discreet presence in the landscape, to the point where the lower floor is entirely submerged below ground and, when searching for the building from the nearby road, you’ll be lucky to see anything at all.
Foster + Partners have also designed the building – the second building they have designed a the McLaren Working site – to be environmentally friendly.
Opened Thursday by British Prime Minister David Cameron, the building collects rainwater on the roof, and has been designed with the intention to install photovoltaic panels in the future.
The building incorporates a low-energy system of displacement ventilation, and no soil was removed from the site, rather, any excavated material has been placed back into the landscape to conceal the building under the greenery.
None of this environmental focus has stopped Foster + Partners from creating the factory they want, however. Linked via a subterranean walkway to the nearby McLaren Technology Centre, the Production Centre is fully capable of a full range of automotive construction tasks and will produce every piece of the McLaren fleet of vehicles.
According to the Foster + Partners press release, “it will take 10 days for an MP4-12C to be assembled; at peak production it will be possible to build one in five days, with a new car joining the line every 45 minutes.”
“Our intention was to design a new kind of industrial building, which would be an elegant addition to the McLaren Technology Centre,” said Iwan Jones, a partner at Foster + Partners. “The two buildings are physically connected by a 100-metre-long tunnel and unified by a common architectural language – we established a ‘kit-of-parts’ system for the project, a family of finishes and details.
“By optimising structural spans to allow a largely clear floor space, we have essentially created a big empty box, with services integrated within the structural zones, wall and floor voids. This flexible form ensures that the building is also highly cost efficient – it will support McLaren’s production needs today and in the future. And the experience of the finished McLaren Production Centre is equally impressive. You don’t realise its scale until you are actually inside the assembly hall, where visitors will have a fantastic view of the different processes from the viewing gallery.”
Source: Foster + Partners