OFFICE BUILDING | Atlántica Agrícola | Villena, Spain
Representation, leisure and work are 3 key concepts that must form the basis for the design of any private company’s office space. However, identity and inclusion are also essential concepts to articulate the common life of any group of people.
Atlántica Agrícola has built its history on the basis of innovation, first, and trade, then, of fertilizers. At this time of maturity, we are challenged to join offices and factory or, in other words, move their obsolete offices in the city centre to an industrial area. The idea is to double the capacity of the offices, on the one hand, and facilitate production management, on the other. However, the new context in which the new offices happen has nothing to do with the original. La Corredera– Villena’s main street and where most of the social, commercial and representative city life takes place – gives way to a roundabout where two regional roads with considerable traffic converge. Although the urbanity of the first location provided the offices with a certain identity, none of this happens in the new context. In fact, this is characterized not only by the surrounding buildings’ excessive abstraction but also by the absence of street, public space, outside life, reference to human scale … what becomes the usual scene of our industrial areas.
Aware of this situation, the main challenge is to generate a certain sense of identity around which to build a place that is not only capable to “represent” the company but to form –amongst a group of people (employees)- a certain sense of belonging. Moreover, this place should be able to humanize its immediate environment, generating, in turn, certain values of domestic comfort in the office’s work and leisure space.
Like the neighbouring warehouses, the new office building is an abstract volume in its exterior but domestic in its interior. Its façade’s aluminium slats, 80cm deep, are designed for a triple function: to attenuate the solar incidence in the hottest months; to contribute to interior comfort by restricting the opening and visibility of the work space to the outside; and, finally, to create an interactive “urban” event since the façade will be different depending on the access point to the adjacent roundabout. On one side, its vertical slats reproduce the characteristic colours of the crop fields; on the other side, they show the company’s logo: a parenchyma.
The volume becomes “formally” independent of its neighbouring industrial buildings through a neutral glazed body that allows, in turn, to introduce natural light into the back blind walls.
The representative image formed by the outer façade also plays a fundamental role in the interior experience. The play of lights and colours produced by the vertical slats inside “is amplified” through a stepped section that fosters the perception of the façade’s full height from any point of the workspaces. This staging follows classic criteria of business hierarchy: management above, departments in the middle and public area below. However, the fundamental goal of introducing a stepped section is to break any vertical hierarchy. As a consequence, the design envisions a unique, open and inclusive space in which all employees equally participate spatially and phenomenologically as they witness everything that happens inside. In this way, it is sought to give interior visibility to all the processes, negotiations and events that normally occur in any office space.
Thus, we seek not only to build a certain sense of brand identity but rather a certain sense of group identity linked to a company: Atlántica Agrícola.
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