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Summary | 10 Annotations
What was once an uninspiring 1990s warehouse in the Northern Portuguese city of Porto is now an open, contemporary office thanks to local firm, Studium.Creative Studio.
2020/09/24 11:29
Catarina Rodrigues have designed the workplace for 180 employees to embrace the stark surrounds, just a mile from Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, but also usher in a new sense of community with elements that are flexible, vivid, on brand, and tied to locale.
2020/09/24 11:29
For Magalhães, Rodrigues, and their multidisciplinary team, the project represented the opportunity to utilize all of Studium’s portfolio of skills, which includes architecture, branding, and product and web design. With Magalhães as the architectural lead and Rodrigues on furnishings, graphics, and palettes, their shared aim for HBK, which was formed in 2019 when HBM and Brüel & Kjær merged, was to bring the interior alive with the simplest of interventions and a tight edit of materials and color. 
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“No, it’s terrible,” Magalhães confesses. “That was the most troubling part of the project. To develop a strategy for a building you need to study its context. The context provided here was none, zero—vacant with a non-referential relation to anything.” Furthermore, external walls were not to be altered and no additional windows or doors were allowed. “The building has a 26-foot ceiling and was very industrial,” Rodrigues remarks.
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“We started with the functional goals of the office and then implemented practices that had to do with well-being, community, society—the new way to approach office design,” Magalhães continues. While the interior feels transformed, there’s no mistaking that you’re in a warehouse.
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“We created a town square of sorts with the shipping containers, and those containers create viewable references,” Magalhães explains. At the office’s heart is what Studium refers to as an auditorium.
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“The yellow represents the two companies coming together,” Rodrigues says, “and warms up the all-gray envelope. Architects usually deflect color, whereas designers like to impose it. We’re in the middle, trying to create equilibrium.” Gray and blue nylon carpet tile installed throughout the meeting rooms helps with acoustics, too; elsewhere, flooring is gray vinyl. 
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In such a huge space, lighting was also challenging. “We had two types,” Magalhães says. “Natural light from the existing but tiny windows in the west- and east-bound walls and skylights, and, of course, artificial light.” Studium added spotlights overhead and task lamps at desks, which provide a “more intimate light, almost a partition,” the architect notes.
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More importantly, Magalhães adds, it’s future-proofed, allowing for the business—and staff—to expand. “Phase 1.5 of the project provides the client the opportunity to develop more work space by creating a mezzanine,” he says. 
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A new freestanding structure, a rectilinear timber-clad “shack,” as Magalhães calls it, houses the staff dining area. It links to the warehouse via a sinuous steel canopy, and also abuts the site’s storage facility. Nearby, a 20-foot shipping container functions as a lounge, complete with foosball table. “The client has decided that the center is a success,” Magalhães says. “The shack and the project overall correspond to everything we thought about strategically and financially”—and underlines the importance of connection and well-being.
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