Corea Morán Arquitectura's workspaces in two industrial halls
BARCELONA (ES) - The untreated and shabby facade 'says it all': the office of Mario Corea & Lluís Morán in calle Grassot in Barcelona, was an exercise in frugality. Only logical, really, given that they were only able to lease the building for six years. Corea jokingly adds that 'architects should spend other people's money, not their own'. While the practice's track record refutes any suspicion of unwonted extravagance, it must also be admitted that the inventiveness of the designers in these circumstances has resulted in some remarkably charming solutions.
Two industrial halls in a narrow street have been combined to form an externally introvert but internally light and open office. The larger of the two buildings contains the entrance and the drawing office and its entire rear elevation is a sliding door that opens onto a shallow patio where the practice staff can eat together in summer. The smaller hall is subdivided into a pantry, the model workshop, the directors' office and a meeting room which looks out over an even narrower patio which will, it is hoped, soon be turned into an ornamental pool. This is a work in progress after the first attempt sprang a leak.
The office design is simple and efficient. Cables have been tucked away in the smooth cement floor and the individual workstations plug into the cable ducts running along the middle and one side of the drawing office. The rough brick sidewalls have been painted white and are washed with light from the 30-centimetre-wide opening that separates these walls from the suspended ceiling. This separation serves to accentuate both the tectonic of the brick and the sculptural form of the ceiling. The latter consists of a series of plasterboard light-catchers that are designed to hide the timber joists, which became unsightly after an obligatory treatment with fire retardant foam. Apart from the new roof made of painted steel sheeting, these are the only explicitly visible new elements; for the rest the project entailed the modification or manipulation of what was already there. The open drawing office is connected at several places with the rooms in the adjoining hall but the most noticeable is the window looking into the model workshop. This is a space that is often tucked away on mezzanine floors or lofts, but this practice attaches so much importance to this representational technique (numerous examples have been hung on the various walls like artworks) that in between the bookcases, the model makers can imagine themselves in the centre of the team.
The almost 70-year-old Argentinian-born Mario Corea, who worked in the US, England and France before fetching up in Barcelona, was until the 1970s an associate of Josep Lluís Sert, one of the most cosmopolitan members of the occasionally introvert Catalan architectural community. His young partner, Lluís Morán, has also spent part of his professional career outside Catalunya. The practice consequently cultivates an 'open-minded' image and the workspace, too, radiates this atmosphere. It encourages the team to communicate freely with one another and even the slightly hierarchical directors' office lacks any privacy thanks to the huge expanse of glass that offers simultaneous views of and from the drawing office. Basically, visitors encounter the first example of this desire for openness as soon as they pass through the massive timber doors. A row of two-metre-high black steel strips screen the entrance off from the drawing office – but not entirely. And it turns out that the screen itself is bar code for C M ARQ.
People, Places |