After considering topographic and climatic aspects of the amazon region in Ecuador, the orientation, construction method and energetic concept of the final design were established. The proposed design is situated on the flat land and faces east, where the site opens to the valley and allows a beautiful view over the landscape. The use of sustainable building material and local labor to realize the project resulted in the design of a bamboo grid-shell structure which enhances natural ventilation from exterior to interior due to its open light weight construction.
The double layer of bamboo sticks is placed in a grid structure on the ground, where the sticks get joined with bamboo stripes. Thereafter the grid gets lifted up and set into the final position. Bamboo is characterized by its high flexibility, availability, light weight and low cost. Similar to the traditional houses of the indigenas, the whole structure is built on stilts to protect from rain. The plant is covered by a double layer PVC-membrane of low flammability. The alternating use of transparent and opaque membrane stripes creates different lightening effects in the interior and makes the bamboo structure visible from the exterior.
The chocolate production area as well as the tourist area run parallel from the entrance in the south-west to the external areas in the east. The production area is designed as one open space, where the different production steps (roasting, melanger-broyer, conching and storage) are linearly arranged. Storage and technical installation rooms are situated in the center of the building to guartantee the required cooling. Staff living quarters, including bedrooms, living room, laundry and restrooms are attached to the production area.
The visitor area, starting in the south-west of the building, is splitted in two parts: One at the ground level and on the first floor.
Taking the first way, visitors pass the entrance hall and can watch the chocolate manufacturing process from the tasting area which is located in the center of the production site. Passing the gallery and community research library, the visitors get to the terrace and picnic plateaus at the end of the building. Taking the second way, the visitors follow a ramp up to the cafe and lounge area, where they can watch the chocolate producers from above and have a panoramic view of the interior. Administration offices, computer training room and photography studio are located next to the staff quarters.
The external areas are designed to fit in the landscape. The handcraft market is a cascaded place, descending from the terrace level to the market area on the ground. The steps should allow the visitors to relax and enjoy nature. To take a rest, they can either take a seat on the plateaus next to the glasshouse or at the river bank.
The energy supply of the main complex is covered by a micro hydro power station, which is independant from the grid and produces power during the day and in the night. It even can be used to supply communities in the surrounding with green energy. The hydro power station produces up to 100 KW and thus is the energy source of all the different power needs. The impounded river can be used for fishing. The drinking water supply is covered using a ground water pump, whereas the wastewater and organic waste are treated in a reed bed next to the chocolate factory. A multi use tower is provides internet access to the employees and artists.
Similar to the main complex, the satellite hubs are constructed of bamboo grid, built on stilts and covered with a membrane. The canopy gives shade to the entrance and is the fixing area for the antenna guaranteeing internet access to the community members.
- bamboo sticks: diameter 10 cm for grid shell
- bamboo sticks: diameter 10 cm for archelements of entrance construction
- counter batten 6 x 9 cm for fixing the membrane layer
- membrane 1,5 cm polyester-canvas, PVC coated
- (roofing instead: timber clapboard, glass-fiber plates or straw)
- round timber: diameter 20 cm fixed on concrete basis
- bamboo floor elements: half bamboo sticks filled with leight weight concrete