The Solera factory

Paterna, Valencia. 2008

Solera SA is a manufacturer of electrical components who produce their own injection moulded plastic housings for switches and fuse boxes. The new building at their existing site in the Valencian industrial park of Fuente del Jarro houses injection moulding equipment over two floors and a total area of 8.000 m2.

The structural designers reviewed the original design with the aim of reducing the steel tonnage of the building and making the steelwork more distinctive. They recommended reducing the dead weight of the first floor by minimising the spans and using a lighter flooring product.

Splitting the planar trusses into V-shaped prismatic trusses reduced the floor spans to 4m, allowing for use of a 150mm hollow core plank floor with a 100mm topping. The upper booms of the truss were embedded into the concrete deck so the truss could act compositely with the concrete topping in order to minimize the compression chord sizes and make the concrete floor plate work harder.

FOA+U’s cool, reserved exterior of the building is broken only by the slick, repeated lines of the fish gill-like north light roof and gives no hint of the cathedralesque grandeur of the internal space defined by its trussed frames and their supporting pylons. The lightness of the floor trusses is evident from every angle and their integration into the floor slabs makes them appear lighter still.

Overall, steel tonnage was reduced by around 30%, making this a highly efficient and relatively lightweight structure for the spans and loads applied. There were also consequential reductions in concrete both on the upper floors and in the foundations. The reduced material volume, and the fact that the structure was to a large degree fabricated off-site, means that the carbon cost of the structure is low for a building of this type.