A construction that occupies an area of 1.1 hectares and that will soon be the cultural epicenter of Vallenato, is the new intramural thermal district of Colombia, located in the municipality of Valledupar (department of Cesar).
By ACR Latin America
Named as "Centro Cultural de la Música Vallenata", sometimes called by the administration as "La casa del Vallenato", and even compared to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, this new building aims to be 'a sanctuary' for the tangible and intangible cultural assets of traditional vallenato music in Colombia.
That is why it will also be an intramural thermal district, because being a relevant space for the citizens and culture of the region, it was necessary to have an air conditioning that provided comfort, as well as an energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable operation in the long term.
As described by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, a thermal district is a "sustainable HVAC infrastructure that, through outsourced utility networks, supplies heat or cold to public, commercial or residential buildings."
Spaces of the Vallenato house
Once the construction is finished, according to the Government of Cesar, this space will comprise 30,070 square meters of building and will have a total of 5 floors, consisting of a basement with 244 parking cells and a first floor with a square open to the public.
On the second floor there will be space for a convention center with a capacity of 1,200 people, in addition to the Vallenato museum. Levels 3 and 4 will be used for auxiliary spaces, offices for the management of the center, as well as premises for research, recording studios and a documentation center.
Finally, and crowning the building, will be the 5th floor that will include a roof terrace with a viewpoint and restaurant area. There will also be a cafeteria, offices, hall of fame with the wax figures of the minstrels, covered shopping plaza and space for micro-fairs.
In defense of the heritage of Vallenato
It is relevant to bear in mind that this space has as antecedent the Special Safeguarding Plan (PES) for Vallenato Music, which was approved by the Ministry of Culture in 2013 "with the purpose of safeguarding this musical heritage". In that sense, Alberto González Martínez, journalist of the national media El Espectador, pointed out (in a post of July 25, 2021) that this work in addition to being framed PES "includes the declaration of Unesco that names Vallenato as Intangible Heritage of Humanity".
For its part, the Government of César, in the publication "Centro Cultural y de Convenciones de la Música Vallenata, santuario de juglares e historias del Vallenato", indicated that this center, in addition to generating potential as a tourist destination to Valledupar, will be "a reference of Colombian folklore, where the most beautiful music in the world is treasured".
In this line of ideas, in an official video on the Youtube account of the aforementioned governor, published on May 18, 2021, Luis Alberto Monsalve (the then Governor of the Department of Cesar) indicated that this was a project that citizens had been demanding for a long time, due to the need to recreate and show visitors what the cultural roots of vallenato music mean.
The leader concluded that this musical genre was at risk if it was not given a physical space to represent it, an action that was in conjunction with the implementation of the "vallenato chair" in educational institutions.
"We have a great responsibility with our folklore, a great responsibility with Colombia because this is also a country project. We hope that it will also be a very important engine for the development of tourism and the promotion of the economy in terms of generating employment for the city."
It should be noted that the administration has pointed out that the benefit of this space will first impact "the musical community, composed of more than 3,000 people and their families, 80% of whom are singers, composers, accordionists and musicians, and 20% integrated by administrative staff such as legal representatives, producers, managers and press"
Likewise, it will be useful for those who live from other related artistic manifestations such as painters, artisans, actors and dancers; folklore researchers; In addition to hotels, restaurants, merchants, tour guides, transporters and other actors around the hospitality industry.
To date, the official investment figure is $138.817 billion Colombian pesos (about 30.7 million dollars), coming from direct royalties from the department. Whose first stone was laid in July 2021 and is expected to be completed by the end of this 2023.
Energy efficiency as a strategy
Miguel Ángel Tovar, CEO of Energy Construcción Eficiente SAS (Energy CE) and engineering leader for this thermal district project, shared details of his participation in this work, starting with the considerations against energy efficiency, where he stressed that the calculations on HVAC systems showed savings of up to 15% compared to another type of solution, So he considers that it has a unique advantage, which fits perfectly with the characteristics of 'intramural' that this particular project has, since the service will be sold to all parts of the project that house any type of commerce to the public.
"Within the engineering development we did something very important that was to analyze the useful life of the selected elements. In the process of establishing the viability of the project we made a comparison with standard quality equipment and found a 'pro' in the equipment and in all the solutions chosen, which was a longer useful life, between 15 and 20 years, which indicated a very interesting return on investment, because although these devices required a greater initial investment, Their return was reflected by their durability."
That is, other cheaper options, according to engineer Tovar, would have forced a "retrofit" or early replacement of equipment, around 10 years, "This solution aims to save in the long term."
Features of the HVAC system of the house of Vallenato
Miguel Ángel indicated that, in general, the district will have a maximum capacity of 390 tons of refrigeration. And he explained that although this project had a lower load, but because cultural spaces that were not initially contemplated, such as the museum, were added, they carried out an optimization process in engineering.
From there arose the idea of migrating from a traditional cooling system to an intramural thermal district, since the space had the square footage and the requirement of having various spaces, including commercial premises.
"Then, in this process of engineering development, in collaboration with the builder and with the accompaniment of regulatory entities, such as the audit and the government, this idea was carried out that was very well received, taking into account that it is the most important architectural project in the region and with the aim of giving it in all aspects, including HVAC, a differentiator."
That is, there was a clear line that the technologies provided energy efficiency and were friendly to the environment, so in the process of expanding the project and restructuring the air conditioning loads this remained a priority and became a strength at the level of projected profitability of the equipment.
A cold heart for the Casa del Vallenato
As narrated by the CEO of Energy CE, the cooling plant "which is the heart of the system" will be composed of a pair of PETRA brand chillers, which are AHRI certified and designed for heavy work. "They are screw type, condensed by air."
The pumping will be done with the pumps and accessories for them of the TACO brand. On the other hand, the handlers are of robust size and will be responsible for conditioning the auditorium, which will function as the main event space. While all indoor units for conditioning such as FanCoils and Cassette are TICA brand.
In addition, Miguel Ángel revealed that his company is venturing into the use of this brand, which recently acquired the SMARDT brand of chillers.
All hydraulic equipment will be of that brand and have AHRI certificates. Moreover, globally this project will have the full range of equipment with certificates of this type, such as AHRI, Eurovent, UL, among others, including those responsible for air conditioning in basements.
"We will have solutions from the Spanish brand Casals for all the ventilation of the building. We chose it because it has manufacturing levels with very high standards and that is a great advantage for us in the aspect of durability, in addition the equipment is assembled and tested from the factory, another important differentiating value for the project".
In complement to the system is the Canadian brand control solution Distech, a precision equipment for the main Data Center of EDPAC (of the Munters group) and, as a final detail, a Samsung VRF for data or electrical rooms, brand that within the framework of this project and according to Miguel Ángel "will launch its new DVM S2 technology".
At the time of the interview (April 2023) Miguel Ángel said that "during the last 14 months we have accompanied the builder in carrying out this optimization process. It has been a long and not very easy road, but it is undoubtedly a very satisfactory journey in the face that the parties have been very aligned in wanting something innovative and efficient, according to the needs and demands that this space will have. This project has the great expectation that it will be the best and largest stage in which an iconic cultural event of Cesar can be held, such as the Vallenato Festival."
As a final fact, the engineer revealed that the goal of the builder, and all the allies, aims to finish the project this year and that it will be the scene of the festival scheduled for 2024.
To conclude, it is necessary to point out that Energy CE, obtained its leadership role of energy optimization for this project, because as a company it is focused and has experience in high energy efficiency projects. "We enjoy the process, even more so when there are opportunities to achieve that premise of energy efficiency and environmental protection, we focus on that type of business."