Futuristic factory embedded in green landscape

Gracing the hills around the city of Tbilisi, the Meama Coffee Factory is a sight to behold. Combining futuristic elements but still abiding by the shape of the surrounding hills, the L-shaped structure features folded exterior concrete walls, angled glazed walls, numerous skylights and atriums and an impressive green roof. All of this leads us to posing the question: whoever said a factory should look grey and dull?

BUILDING ID
Location

Tbilisi, Georgia

Project completion

2019

Designed by

Giorgi Khmaladze Architects

Project type

new build

Building type

offices and factory

Roof surface

ca. 6,500 m²

Roofing membrane

Firestone RubberGard EPDM 1.1 mm 

Founded in 2016, Meama has quickly risen to become the largest coffee producer in Georgia. The company imports high-quality coffee beans from all over the world to be roasted and grinded to meticulous quality standards, resulting in the finest coffee blends. To ensure a consistent flavor pattern in its premium coffee capsules, Meama felt it was in need of headquarters that would seamlessly fit both their high production standards and the company’s values. They especially wanted a unique place with a strong identity, just like their coffee, as well as a comfortable and innovative office space that would be a constant source of inspiration.

Durability and aesthetics at the forefront

To see their dream become a reality, Meama assigned their idea to the capable hands of Giorgi Khmaladze, a young upcoming architect from Georgia. Constructed between 2016 and 2019, the Meama Coffee Factory has become an architectural marvel, housing manufacturing facilities, offices and a large coffee tasting showroom. The building, spread over a terrain of 30,000 square meters, is lodged by the highway between Tbilisi and its international airport. Concertina-style folded walls appear to wholly encapsulate the building, bouncing off light and casting curious shadows over the construction throughout the day. The angular exterior in exposed concrete lends no clues as to what the interior looks like, and unknowing visitors would likely be surprised to find that the interior of the building is flooded with natural light, created by several planted lightwells and numerous skylights located in the building. The back of the building is a striking contrast to the front, offering a grandiose view of the pine forest and fields nearby.

The Meama Coffee Factory’s defining feature is undoubtedly its distinctive green roof, which spans over an area of 3,680 square meters. Fully covered by wild grasses and accessible to the factory staff, the green roof blends well into the surrounding landscape, acting as an additional thermal barrier to the roof insulation. As an additional perk, the vegetation shields the Meama office from noise pollution stemming from the nearby airport. The height of the undulating roof adapts to the encapsulated spaces’ requirements, heightening where machinery and equipment are located and lowering wherever possible. Near its edges, the green roof follows the slopes of the surrounding environment.

Giorgi Khmaladze Architects, an architectural firm known for its intense focus on sustainability and boundary-pushing design, seamlessly incorporated both the city’s requirement for a factory blending into the landscape and the client’s need for a distinctive visual identity. Khmaladze primarily chose the materials on the factors of aesthetics and durability: he wanted to give the building a singular sense of geometry that would also accommodate the surrounding nature. To combine both aesthetics and durability, the architect chose cast-in-place concrete for the majority of the building, utilising one way waffle slab to create vast, unobstructed spaces within the structure. For an easy and swift installation process of the undulating green roof, Khmaladze opted for EPDM roofing membranes.

 

Why EPDM?

Single-ply EPDM roofing membranes are particularly well-suited for green roof installations. They are extremely robust and durable, with a service life of over 50 years. Firestone’s RubberGard EPDM membrane also has proven resistance to root penetration, successfully meeting the requirements of the EN 13948 standard and the root penetration resistance test from the German Landscape Research, Development and Construction Society (FLL). These attributes, together with its design freedom, versatility and ease of installation further contributed to Meama choosing RubberGard EPDM for the roof of their headquarters.

In 2019, the Meama Coffee Factory was announced as the grand prize winner of the Archdaily & Strelka Awards in the ‘Best Industrial Building’ category. It was also the Popular Choice Winner in the “Commercial - Office - Low Rise (1-4 Floors)” category of the 2020 Architizer A+Awards — the world's largest architectural awards program, which recognizes innovative projects and products by renowned industry leaders and emerging talents alike.

THE ROOF ASSEMBLY
01

Soil

02

Geonet

03

Geotextile 350g/m2

04

River-washed stone

05

Geotextile 350g/m2

06

Stud membrane/ cavity drainage membrane

07

RubberGard EPDM 1.1 mm

08

XPS insulation

09

Monolithic concrete

There is a lot to
discover about EPDM

EPDM is the most future-proof roofing solution when it comes to sustainability, performance and design freedom. Learn more about the role it played within this project and many others by discovering its benefits.

How did EPDM elevate this project?

Green Roofs

Green roofs cool down and insulate. Reduce noise. Create habitats for birds and insects. All great features. However, it’s only made to last when it’s designed carefully and installed on the non-toxic root-and water resistant EPDM membrane.

Unusual Forms

Freedom of design is key to those creating big things. Thanks to its flexibility and availability in big, single-ply sheets, EPDM supports creative solutions. It also enables future transformations and placing new objects on the roof.

The future of roofs is green

Roofs represent about 20–25% of the total urban surface area. What is particularly visible on satellite photos is that we are not making the most of our roofs yet: more often than not, they stay empty. At the same time, as cities continue to grow and expand, becoming warmer and noisier in the process, roofs are expected to go beyond their primary function of ensuring watertightness. More than just “covers” on top of buildings, they need to contribute to their energetic efficiency, sustainability and overall reduction of the environmental impact. Green roofs are among the best solutions that address all these needs.