Location: Platina, Guatemala City
Architects / Interior Designers: Studio Domus
Constructor: Studio Domus
Project Area: 19,073.65 sq ft / 1,772.65 m2
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Alejandro de León
Grupo Duwest, long standing company, dedicated to solutions for agriculture, cattle, and coatings, had grown for more than 25 years in an old apartment building that was converted over the years into an office building. The condition of the property promoted excessive privacy to small enclosures, little communication between departments, and a physical separation that limited the identification of their clients with a uniform corporate image.
Duwest looked for a new locale, where they could fit all of their office employees and greet their clients comfortably. Finally, they acquired three levels in the Platina building, where they could maximize the views and natural light thanks to the size of the levels.
The architects and designers had the liberty to create a new image, considering only a workstation design program. Finally, the client accepted a vanguard solution in the center, functionally resolved with open spaces, where the top and mid-level managers are placed in a common work area.
The employees and visitors come out of the elevator into a lobby that looks like it came out of a magazine. The green tones are vibrant and warm, mixed harmoniously with gray and white. The use of indirect light is comforting, but in this space the reception desk steals the attention, with a futurist design created by the same firm. Nothing is conventional in this office and the eye is always stimulated by each place it's in.
A change was proposed for the stereotype of meeting rooms with rectangular table to achieve a blend of spaces that allowed more collaboration; rooms with movable chairs were incorporated to the program along with rooms with a conventional table and open rooms, integrated to coffee stations or waiting rooms. Each one had its function and style well defined. The exterior views are maximized by the use of glass enclosures with no design or visual blockage, which gave more amplitude and made this office float in the middle of the city. From the center of the work area both sides of the exterior are visible, and there is free access to the balconies from the coffee stations and corridors.
The tones of citric green, burnt green, and moss green explode in each space, and look for rough textures such as the carpet, soft like the prints and textures of the furniture, smooth like baseboard or rugged like the walls. All the dark wood looks like it was made in the same place because its tone was pertinently matched on the doors and some parts of the imported furniture. Furniture from four different providers was specified to choose the best from each, Herman Miller, Haworth, Steelcase, and Bo Concept. Definitely, nothing of the design or the materials was chosen randomly because each part blends into its context in a harmonious way.
The elevated floor allowed the wiring and air conditioning to go under it, leaving the ceiling design free. The carpet or vinyl covering of the floor has a peculiar design, that looks like it is inspired on a pixilated or fragmented image, where each color can be separated, generating a diversity of geometric shapes and although the green squares only represent 10% of the floor, they can overpower the gray mass. The ceiling's design is modern and lacks decorations, freely appreciating the shape and light of the built-in lamps. From the offices to the bathrooms the architectural language is the same but its result is always unique.
Besides being the corporate offices this space is also the sales room for DuPont. This is why the designers proposed various pieces designed by them in Corian, that not only fuse various elements, but also achieve a surprisingly futurist result without unions. This coffee station has its own sink, light, and a screen built into the piece and making them part of it. The idea is originated by a piece (green slab by Corian) that from being ceiling becomes wall, then surface, then baseboard, and finally turns around to end up back in its base. Again, the imported stools look like they were born with the coffee station and fabricated with the carpet's same green thread.
The work space is a tribute to the employees, they all share the same space with no importance of their position. Architecturally, the streamlined lamps relate very well to the white MDF lacquered ceiling design. The employeesâ furniture is the same for all and was configured with emphasis on its ergonomics and user's comfort. It has semi acoustic green panels and chairs that have recently won awards for their design worldwide. After its implementation, this space achieved the main objective that the architects had: to generate a better communication between departments, supervisors and employees, clients and personnel.
After the lobbyâs tempered doors there is the heart of the project, something completely unexpected in an office building... a cluster of stairs of three -stories high made possible by the demolition of two pieces of concrete from the building. Its absolute white color emphasizes this space more in the middle of an office in green colors. Its walls are covered with Corian from floor to ceiling, with a low worked relief, that abstractly reveals the logo of the company. The metallic stairs were painted white with automobile paint that the same group of companies produces and sells. Each step is made of Zodiaq and weighs more than 42 lbs. each; notwithstanding, a light effect is possible and visually they seem to float. The planter on the lower level catches the eye and makes the tour more enjoyable. If a space synthesizes the commercial nature of a company it is this one: it has nature, paint overcoats, and also uses DuPont products.
The last level is dedicated to the directors, and although it is a much more formal space than the other two levels it still has the same interior style. Again, the aluminum color of the buildingâs windows blends in with the furniture, lamps, and iron fittings on the doors, generating a visual unity that is nice to appreciate. The directorsâ meeting rooms are completely automated but hide the technology. Next to it there's a lounge where people can go and have refreshments after the long meetings in a comfortable environment, without leaving the context.
Even the smallest detail was carefully resolved; the bathrooms with translucent materials, floating mirrors with indirect light, and Corian sinks designed only for this space.
Such a well-designed and executed project can only be done when clients and designers work as a team, sharing information and mainly, trusting the professional capacity of each one. This is the only way a result like this one can be accomplished, where the tour of the inside is enjoyable, every corner is a delight, each detail is exquisitely executed and each selected piece admired.