THE VALUE OF FEELING WELL
Mónica Chao y Esther Díaz
Intu’s new offices are born as a result of the physical and emotional need of working in a friendlier environment, according to the requirements of our human team. In January 2018, the project of a new headquarters for intu begins.
The starting point was a critical study of the previous office, located at Fortuny Street: we made an analysis of the way in which intu’s employees were working in order to understand the spatial and functional needs. To do that we observed the worker’s habits, the time spent at the worktable, at the office itself, or the time spent on the phone, among other data. From there, with the involvement of the Human Resources, Sustainability, Experience, Project Management and Design departments, a global strategy was developed, focused on improving team’s well-being and aligned with the company's corporate culture. Intu’s motto: "we make joy" is articulated through three main values: "creative”, “genuine" & “bold”. The daring challenge we had ahead of us was to obtain an office that represented these values.
When happines is contagious
Along with the project of moving to a new office, we were given the possibility of a radical change at our work environment. The challenge was to improve not only the physical conditions but also the effect the office itself had on the worker’s mood, what we call "feeling well". From our perspective, we understand that creating spaces that generate a good mood has a final impact on happiness, improving talent as well as productivity.
The first fundamental decision is to choose the place: we opted for an old palace at Castellana Street, built by Joaquín Saldaña in 1904, following the Belle Époque style. It is one of the last vestiges of palatial architecture at the city’s core, which initially had about fifty mansions, from which only twelve remain. The Palace is protected by local law in order to assist to the conservation of its architectural heritage. It is undoubtedly a unique building: with a landscaped outdoor space, a human scale, and a height of 3 floors plus a recessed attic, the building drifts away from the modern image of great heights and glazed surfaces, already predominant at Castellana. These small details, convert the place in a redoubt of tranquility, subtly isolating it from the deafening hustle of the adjacent streets.
The interior of the building as intu gets it, is a rough and untreated space: white floors, walls and ceilings, with a diaphanous space inside, in which the architecture itself revolves around a very bright frontal area in conjunction with the oldest and most protected part, where the only element that organizes the place is a wooden staircase. In the background, a vertical communication area and a curtain wall offers a more private space.
Since the beginning of the project, we are committed to the values of intu’s well being as the key to obtain the best conditions for mental and physical employee’s health. The design transformation must be radical, but always respecting architectural heritage: the introduction of warm and comfortable materials such as wood, carpeted fabrics on the building's own natural stone surface, the use of color to break the white hegemony, both on walls and on floor or on furniture, and natural plants as an essential element in both work and recreation areas.
The furnishing of the operating space itself follows these guidelines too, choosing organic-form tables, that allow the clustering of small three-people groups, that energize the working way. These are also framed under green and gray carpets, which make the workspace more comfortable.
The lighting also plays a fundamental role on the generation of a well-being space: introducing decorative elements both in the entrance hall that welcomes employees every day, as in the reception spaces, relaxation spaces, or at the workstations themselves, thus attenuating the coldness of the regular office space lighting.
All this is complemented by cozy corners to spend time in a more relaxed way, designed for informal meetings, phone calls, or simply changing the workplace when looking for a greater concentration, while allowing postural hygiene. These corners are organized at every floor, taking special care of materials, furniture and colors in order to contribute to well-being. In general terms, the space aims to reinforce and to promote “well” behaviors, such as the use of the stairs instead of the elevator; healthy-eating, drinking water, or relaxing while reading a non-work-related magazine.
The basement, despite not having natural lighting, becomes the most dynamic and flexible office space through mobile partitions, oak wood paneling, wooden stands, and a multicolored carpet that extends throughout the footprint of the building. The goal is to offer a multi-purpose area, able to host a large workshop, as well as conferences, work breakfasts, or even a yoga class. The goal is to erase the references to a regular office space, getting closer to the concept of hospitality.
The second floor is a much more institutional space. It is intended entirely for meeting areas, with a formal style in separated rooms (also versatile in size by the introduction of mobile partitions), as well as for informal ones, through a central space with modular sofas and armchairs that allow different groupings. Also, here the use of colored carpets and textures provides warmth, making the space much more domestic.
The rooftop is conceived as an employee’s recreation area. The space revolves around a glass cube, which serves as a dining room where, again, the colored furniture and comfortable materials are aimed and placed to contribute to well-being.
To conclude, the conjunction of the pre-existing architecture of the Palace, together with an interior design based on creating a comfortable environment that contributes to the well-being of workers, away from the strict functionality of regular offices, resulted in a very cozy and domestic space.
Built surface: 1.071 m2
Ground surface: 600 m2
Per floor surface: 238 m2
Budget: 450.000 m2
Project Management & Design intu
Raúl Pojer, María Arboledas, Esther Díaz
Project desing, Work and construction coordination:
- Andreu world
- Punt Mobles
- fat boy
- Mr Wils
- Aromas del campo
- viveros Shanghai
- los peñotes
- Norman Copenhagen
- Ferm Living
Worktops: Dekton/ silestone (cosentino)
Carpets: Tarkett/ desso/ mixonomi/ asteranne