ALCAO Chocolate Factory
Electrical and Mechanical Plant



Office  Tornavida Design · AG Proje İnşaat Team  Jonathan Phillips · Gökhan Candangil Type  New construction Role  Design development · Partial bid documentation Client  Altınmarka (Kahve Dünyası) Size  4000 m² Location  Parvomay (Plovdiv), Bulgaria Year  2015


This new mechanical and electrical plant provides process services and emergency power to an existing factory building that was being converted to produce the goods of a global chocolate manufacturer within the EU. The project involved taking the design for this plant from a napkin sketch to bid-level documentation according to EU standards in a matter of six weeks. It also involved collaboration among three redundant sets of consultants: the company's in-house team, a full set of independent architectural and engineering consultants in Turkey, and a corresponding set of professionals in Bulgaria.
In keeping with the client's brief that the building be transparent, the initial articulation of the design called for covering the entire ground floor of the plant building in translucent polycarbonate so that the bulk of the building would seem to float above this open story. This was considered too progressive, so instead, storefronts frame the individual generators, transformers, and boilers and are detailed like retail display windows, such that the internal street is like a museum of the technologies in use. The floating effect is still partially achieved by the choice of paint colors.

The documentation produced was obliged to representatively indicate all design, construction, and material systems and decisions and to conform to EU standards. The translation and proliferation of the drawings as necessary to meet local regulatory and construction documentation requirements were handled by a local architect to whom the drawings were handed over.

The division of the functions into separate buildings arranged in a line is necessitated by structural, mechanical, and safety requirements. The banding on the façades is coordinated with the window heights and mullions and ties the buildings together visually, while yellow stacks act as a foil. For the time being, the length of the east façade is visible from an adjacent overpass. However, an additional factory is planned along this side of the building, as well, so eventually this façade will also be along an internal street.

A limited color palette integrates the individual plant buildings, the forms of which reflect the requirements of the transformers, generators, boilers, and pumps. Shading devices around various sizes of windows, doors, and storefronts are a recurring motif accented with the russet color of the logo.
Storefronts of various sizes and types are mounted to frames with integral shading devices, the edges of which are designed to appear like a knife edge. These frames are bolted to the adjacent walls so that when an equipment change requires a taller or wider opening than what the normal clearance of the door allows, the entire frame can be detached.
A platform added to the existing factory along the internal street  serves both as an awning and as a mechanical platform for air conditioning units. The mechanical bridges connecting the factory to the mechanical plant are clad in translucent polycarbonate panels and are illuminated at night.
Time and budgetary constraints precluded using a BIM modelling system to check for incongruities among the various mechanical and electrical systems, particularly through these mechanical bridges, so many were confirmed in a rough-and-ready fashion using SketchUp.
Fenestration is to be added to the blind wall of the existing factory to provide access to the internal street and the mechanical plant.
Back to Top