Climate-adaptive factory in India promotes employee wellness
Sanand Factory in Gujarat, India, created by Studio Saar, explores how a factory can go beyond being eco-friendly to also be healthier and happier for workers. The new factory is built on the site of a former lakebed. It features a seasonal lake that varies in depth by the time of year. Additionally, the facility was commissioned by electronics manufacturer Secure Meters, who works in the automotive industry.
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The designers promoted staff wellbeing in addition to reducing energy consumption. For instance, there is a recreation area, a canteen for staff and many sustainable features throughout the factory from rainwater collection to 2,000 trees planted on site.
Furthermore, the factory is expandable. Built in phases, the facility is economical and allows for production to start in record time. The clients wanted an inclusive environment that promoted communication and collaboration. As a result, they wanted to break down the hierarchy often seen in manufacturing workplaces.
Therefore, the facility is built on a 25-acre site that has been repurposed and designated for industrial development. It is split into three zones for manufacturing, employee recreation and visitors. The facility has four buildings: a main manufacturing line, a utility bay, a canteen and recreation center and a reception building.
Sheltered walkways connect the buildings, which are covered in a white, kite-like fabric canopy. White was used throughout as a color scheme to create a lighter ambience. Natural light is used throughout the site where possible. In fact, solar panels generate up to 50% of the needed energy for the factory and facilities.
The visitor center houses meeting rooms, a training room, changing and locker rooms and a medical center. The designers say the building was designed to be open and welcoming to all. However, only screened employees can enter the factory premises beyond the visitor center, as is common in manufacturing and research and development facilities.
The recreation area and canteen are central to the complex and are designed with a relaxed atmosphere. It contains a gym, a kitchen, eating area and rec area. Wide cantilevers protect the building from the sun, and the air is cooled by water-source cooling and circulated throughout the building. To top it off, it comes with 300-degree views of the surrounding trees.
In particular, the canteen was repurposed to provide temporary worker accommodations. A special ventilation system treated air through both passive and active ventilation systems to protect employee health.
Outside, the lake can expand from one acre to three acres during monsoon season to avoid flooding the site. The lake allows rainwater storage to be collected on site. It is surrounded by groundwater recharge wells that filter water back to designated underground reserve tanks for later use.
Routes in and out of the facilities are lined with trees to create a pleasant, nature-focused environment for workers. To protect a group of weaver birds on site, existing trees on site were kept to retain their habitat.
“We were keen to demonstrate to our client how factories should and can be inspiring places to work and bring joy to the people that use them,” said Ananya Singhal, co-founder of Studio Saar.
All major materials including cement, sand and steel were sourced from local sites. The design has been awarded the highest platinum rating by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).