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Reform of banking offices in Torre Diagonal

Pepe Cortés Asociados

FAD Award 2007  Interior design
Description Technical file

It was proposed to remodel the noble storeys of the Sabadell-Atlántico bank, a building erected in 1969 and the work of the architects Francesc Mitjans and Santiago Balcells. On floor 22, which houses the management offices, it was decided to compose a series of boxes in the ceiling that expand the views, leaving the central space as an open-plan area. The layout of floor 20 is configured around a glazed corridor that leads to the different private banking offices. It was sought for floor 03, which houses the Board, to participate as much as possible of the interior garden designed by Bet Figueras.
With the incorporation of the old Atlántico bank building, Banc Sabadell has managed, on one hand, to bring together some of its subsidiaries that were hitherto spread all over the city and, on the other, to occupy a representative spot in the centre of Barcelona.
Situated in the crossing of calle Balmes and avenida Diagonal, this twenty-two-storey building was erected in 1969 and is the work of the architects Francesc Mitjans and Santiago Balcells. It is one of the most representative and best resolved of the so-called “singular” buildings constructed in Barcelona after the nineteen-fifties and especially during the ‘sixties.
Inspired in the Pirelli building, the work of Gio Ponti, in the city of Milan, it stands out for the purity of its volume and its simplicity of lines. The great central prism is slightly separated from the neighbouring buildings in order to highlight its slender lines. The ends of the prism, resolved with opaque walls that conceal the communications and service units, box in a facade that has ben resolved with a curtain wall subdivided into three vertical stretches. This produces open-plan floors divided into two large spaces separated by a communicating corridor.
Within a global process of interior reforms and updating of the building, Pepe Cortés was commissioned to reform three of its storeys: floor 22, with the management spaces, floor 20 dedicated to Sabadell Private Banking clients; and floor 3, with representative offices and the Boardroom.
Floor 22. Management. Curiously, floor 22 has the lowest ceiling height of the entire building. But it is also the one with the best vistas of Barcelona. Here are the Management offices.
To counter the lack of height of the structural grid, it was decided to compose a series of boxes in the ceiling that expand the views. And what was most important, it was decided to leave the central part of the floor as an open-plan space, a room that overlooks the city from west to east, from the Tibidabo to the sea.
The floor layout is very simple. The vestibule of the lifts is directly linked to the reception space, where the first panoramic views of Barcelona begin. From this space, a great ebony wood door with brass details gives on to the main hall. At the back of the hall, another door leads to the Management offices.
The combination of materials such as wool, basalt, ebony wood, sulphur-treated brass or gold leaf, together with pieces of furniture designed by Carles Riart and works of art selected by Miquel Molins, gives these spaces the exclusive yet domestic air that was sought.
Also noteworthy is the initiative of the bank to make this floor, together with floor 3, representative in the application of the latest technologies. In this line, the entire floor has been fitted with a control system that can command via digital screens an endless number of options according to the use that the rooms are put to.
Floor 20. Private Banking. The layout of floor 20 is configured around the corridor that from the reception space leads to the different offices for attending to private banking clients.
As in other headquarters of Sabadell Private Banking, for each one of the offices a combination has been chosen of pieces of furniture, lighting and decoration from a decade of the twentieth century, from the Viennese Secession to the Nineteen-Seventies.
The route through the glass corridor becomes a small tribute to contemporary design, with the vistas over the city of Barcelona as a backdrop.
From the longitudinal axis of the building, the false ceiling of this floor descends gently down to the facades to bridge the unevenness that would have been occasioned by the perimeter summers of the structure.
Special attention has been paid to the acoustic conditions that ensure privacy in the private banking offices. In this line, the false ceiling of the floor is finished off with panels in an absorbent material; the partitions between the rooms are made from two Pladur plasterboards separated by a dampening layer that is impermeable to sound and with rock wool in the core; the general lining of the walls is formed by another absorbent material, cork, and the glass enclosures of the corridor incorporate silk curtains.
The continuous floor in Capri limestone in a raw colour and the maple wood employed in the perimeter unit and all the frames complete the general definition of the materials on this floor. In addition, each private banking office features a wall clad in a special material in keeping with the room decoration.
Floor 3. Boardroom. With a larger surface and a more complex geometry than the upper storeys, floor 3 is at the level of the building’s interior garden and features two entrance vestibules.
While floor 22 can be read as a sequence of contiguous spaces linked by doors and floor 20 as the line of a corridor, floor 3 is characterised by the definition of the network corresponding to the circulation spaces.
The intervention undertaken on floor 3 of the building aims for the new Boardroom spaces to participate as much as possible in the garden designed by Bet Figueras.
That is how the glass enclosure that replaces the curtain wall of the building’s internal facade is understood. It is also how we understand the will to visually link up the circulation spaces with the garden once all the pieces of the programme were fitted into place.
The two vestibules of the lifts give access, via automatic glass doors, to am ample reception space, the heart of the circulation network of the floor. From this space one can see the character of the intervention, with walls clad in limed ash slats, dark stone floors combined with wool carpeting and large rugs, some gold leaf panels and shelving as the only visual separation with the library situated on calle Balmes side.
The central room of the floor is the Boardroom. And inside the room is the great round table designed for the occasion, accompanied by a black hexagonal prism with monitors and video cameras that can be fully concealed by means of hydraulic mechanisms.

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Localización: Avenida Diagonal, Barcelona. Autor: Pepe Cortés Asociados. Pepe Cortés León. Colaboradores: Nacho Ferrer Orenga, arquitecto, Carles Riart, diseñador industrial, Yago Sarri Mata, diseñador industrial, Marifé Bellaubí Guardia, interiorista, y Laura Terés Soler, interiorista. Promotor y Contratista: Banc Sabadell. Fotografía: Luís Casals.
Pepe Cortés
Pepe Cortés Asociados

Lluis Casals