Manresa. Barcelona

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Offices in Manresa

Indaga. Gabriel Gomera, diseñador de interiores, y Gabriel Garrido, arquitecto

Description Technical file

The new headquarters of Mutua Manresana is situated in new-build premises constituted by a ground floor covering six hundred and fifty metres square and a first floor of three hundred and fifty metres square, in a central zone of the city of Manresa, Barcelona. The great opening in the facade gives it a suitable relationship with the exterior, providing it with excellent natural lighting and facilitating a major physical presence of the entity in the city.

In the year 2006, the entity Mutua Manresana decided to build their new central headquarters in the city of Manresa. This project is important for the expansion of the work surface and degree of attention to the mutuality member, but also for the civic representation it seeks to provide.

Collaboration with the architects’ practice began in the year 2002, when they designed their Lleida office, a space of a hundred and fifty metres square, a far smaller surface than the thousand metres square of the new headquarters. Both the project and the resulting spaces had met with the approval of the entity, that now asked for their collaboration in this new challenge executed during 2008.

The new headquarters are located in a central part of the city, in new-build premises on a chamfered corner, with six hundred and fifty metres square on the ground floor and three hundred and fifty on the first floor. The two floors enjoy a high level of connection with the exterior, translated into suitable natural lighting while favouring a considerable physical presence of the entity in the city.

The functional programme required three management offices, boardroom, assistance, commercial and IT departments, meeting room, spaces for the non-medical attention to the mutuality members as well as a small pantry-diner. The capacity of the offices is for a staff of around thirty or thirty-five, with a boardroom and meeting room for twenty people.

The project situates the management offices and boardroom in the upper floor, favouring privacy and isolation, with the ground floor used for the work areas, meeting room, attention to the public and pantry-diner.

The proposal is defined according to the logic of the premises’ geometry, structuring the spaces perpendicularly to the nearest facade. The lineal composition contrasts with a meandering glass wall that, on one side, welcomes the visitors and separates the public space from the work zones and, on the other, permits acoustic insulation. This enclosure generates a visual filter from the public zones that allows a view of the human team that forms the entity and limits the vision of the exterior while allowing natural light in, mixed with the coloured filter applied to this glass to form a very interesting luminescent atmosphere in the interior vestibules. Linearity is emphasised through the different blocks of cupboards that separate the offices and workspaces. A roof light opened in the existing lightweight roof allows natural light in and makes for a very pleasant innermost workspace. Glass gives way to the metallic staircase with cantilevered landing that sets the central area apart at the end of the vestibule.

The vestibule also helps in this joint interpretation of the two floors, as a series of vertical cuts, which permit installing fluorescent light, accompany one of the walls along its full height, illuminating both the vestibule and the boardroom. The service elements are grouped around the nucleus of the building’s staircase, occupying the zones without natural light.

The entire furniture has been purpose-designed, as it is the element that together with glass is used to organise the different spaces and to make the separation between them. Only for enclosing facilities, changing rooms and storeroom are partitioning panels used.

The upper floor also features the geometry of the chamfered corner and the interior nucleus of facilities, but in this case the enclosures are distanced from the facade and it is the furniture itself that is configured as the partitioning element. It stands in the centre of the space, twisting, dancing, accompanying the routes and the facade itself, curving and slimming down to diminish its presence. This wish to divide the space while permitting a maximum of transparencies and opening up the possibility of different perspectives is also the result of the lack of height of this floor, which incorporates a false ceiling in the passages to house the air conditioning inlets and outlets and the rest of the technical installations.

Particularly noteworthy is the facade treatment, where the desire for transparency and natural light has led to doing away with vertical frames and to concealing the horizontal ones in the bottom in a basalt stone plinth that absorbs the unevenness of the pavement, and the ones in the top in the pleated sheet metal hinge. The determination to interpret this new facade as a whole over its full height has led to designing glass that allows the light through and that, depending on its position, provides the necessary privacy for the workers while permitting a view of the street from the inside, transforming it into an element that generates a dialogue with its surroundings. The proposal has resulted from the collaboration with the plastic artist Mariona Vilaseca, graphic designer Cristina Muñoz and the practice itself.

Materials and colours
With regard to the treatment of the materials and the colour, white predominates in the paint used to coat the walls, which is mixed with the lacquered white of the furniture that organises the different spaces and that rests on the natural grey stone (basalt) of the ground-floor paving. The curvilinear glass wall, with vertical strips in orange and red, tints the resulting spaces. On the first floor the marble paving is also in white, helping to frame the space where the curved furniture stands, creating a contrast through its colours and delimiting the different workspaces. The artificial lighting is equally in keeping with the project, as it is lineal and structured on the ground floor and free and flexible in the upper floor.

The proposal is ultimately the result of the wish to bring natural light into every nook and cranny of the interior, emphasising the open character of the different spaces that seek to blur their own limits in the search for exterior and interior views in order to enrich the routes and the different workspaces. Transparency and lightness are elements to do with relationships, proximity and communication, consolidating the light, the colours and the relations between them through the materials in a space that, with the delicately worked details, becomes sincere, flexible, singular, comfortable and above all human.

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Localización: Manresa. Barcelona. Autor: Indaga. Gabriel Gomera, diseñador de interiores, y Gabriel Garrido, arquitecto. Colaboradores: Francesc Badia, arquitecto, Cristina Muñoz, diseñadora gráfica, Mariona Vilaseca, artista plástica, Toni Machado, estudiante, Susana Cano, estudiante, Josep Puchades, estudiante, Xell Orti, arquitecta, Toni Jiménez, renders, Sergi Alegre, arquitecto técnico. Ingeniería: Joan A. Montilla, ingeniero técnico. Fotografía: Joan Villaplana.
Gabriel Gomera
Gabriel Garrido
Joan Villaplana
Manresa, Barcelona