Location: Zentro Plaza, Guatemala City
Architects: Solares & Lara
Interior designers: Studio Domus
General contractor: Grupo Onyx
Consultants: Carrier-Caelsa (A/C), Sistemas contemporáneos (Lighting)
Project area: 21,456 sq ft / 1,994.05 m2
Project year: Design/Completion: 2010/2011
Photography: Alejandro de León

The six-story building, with reduced floor plans, exposed concrete columns and flat slabs and inclined asymmetrical facades of reflecting glass, presented an interesting challenge for the interior design. The client, with a highly contemporary style, allowed the creation of one of the most futuristic interior design projects that Studio Domus has done, where the project posses an unparalleled geometrical fluidity.

The acceptance of this architectural style reflects the progressive attitude of the client, because he allowed the designers creative freedom to do something daring and never seen before in this city. The approved concept on the facade’s image was to use angles and edges on the main elements of the interior.

The main lobby gives a welcome into an austere space that reflects security in simple and modern taste. In this volume two pieces oppose each other: the Vibia Ameba lamp and an exquisite reception desk. The latter is a white Corian piece, designed by the same firm, with a futurist style and pertinently crowned by the suspended lamp. The small planters that surround this space and the touch of yellow on the aluminum panels compensate the warmth that the context might need. The placing of these two elements was carefully analyzed to, finally, be between four concrete columns (one of which is steel but covered to give the space the balance it needed).

Although the client wanted prefabricated concrete panels to cover some walls, the designers found a cement-based material that only needed to be applied as a cover, which achieved the same effect of a prefabricated sheet.  This decision not only simplified its execution, but also reduced the cost and didn’t compromise the structure of the building with more weight.

The image of exposed concrete and revealed metals is dominant in the interior architecture. However, all the revealed metals were painted with a vibrant yellow color, with which it is possible to communicate, unify, and highlight the placement of the aluminum panels and columns and steel beams. On the contrary, the concrete elements were only polished or painted with graphite matte color.

From each elevator lobby a sophisticated arrangement of suspended MDF ceilings breaks out, with a serial angular composition. Practically each piece is an original, because it was the only way to visualize a dynamic rhythm with many angles. These white lacquered pieces generate a high sense of elasticity between the floors and the concrete tiles. The eye is stimulated constantly, trying to understand the arrangement and continuity of the pieces that also, with their spacing, allow seeing at night the complex placement of the European lamps. On the two superior levels these ceilings overlap into the main vestibule and reach the office corridors. Even the modular carpet has designs with angular forms that go hand in hand with the suspended ceiling proposal.

But, truly, the stairs are what seem to be a six-story sculpture. With the exposed concrete footprints, yellow aluminum panels that hide the building’s ducts, yellow exposed steel beams, frosted glass lateral covers that work as great light diffussors and, as the final touch, a stylized stainless steel banister with no intermediate support. On each level, four steel columns also painted yellow and stone colored floors receive these stairs.

The distribution of office space and workstations was coherent with the use of natural light. The decision was made to leave the private offices with large transparent windows and clusters of open workstations to take advantage of the panoramic views in the 360° of the building. Complementing this solution, the main areas have occupation sensors to reduce energy costs. The air conditioning ducts were presented in a circular profile and painted only white and the suspended lamps were placed under them. 

The furniture has a similar language to the interior architecture, expressed in its bases, surfaces, and white filing cabinets, but contrasted with warm vibrant orange. Regardless of the size of the offices, workstations or meeting rooms, all the furniture has the same aesthetic language.

On the typical work levels no wall or glass reaches the slab, but stays aligned at 91 feet to the facade'€™s aluminum siphon. This allows taking advantage of the concrete structure's thermal mass and improving the thermal conditions in this vast common space. The client has a teamwork policy and prefers open spaces to private ones.

On the director’s level the element of surprise is the double height, that allows a play of suspended ceilings in the vestibule and corridors, where the serial planes pass over the air conditioning ducts and reveal the skylight that finishes off the main stairs. The ash brown laminated wood floors with wide slabs, give a modern aspect to the space, where the challenge was to avoid transitions between doors and achieve very subtle finishes to the columns and walls. The exposed concrete on the walls have subtractions that define the entry and give depth to the environment. With vey little effort, leather furniture in the foyer stands out easily in this context. 

In the main office, although the same color pattern in the furniture as the lower levels was followed, an intriguing amount of pieces of furniture is generated, making us forget their use and turning them into exhibition elements. It looks like a gallery where nothing is out of place and each piece was studied before it's placing. The austere decoration highlights each element; an orange Danish couch takes advantage of its context to distinguish itself, beautiful tables made of Italian glass, elegant white leather chairs, a select concrete bar, stools with transparent seats, and a long suspended Belgium lamp dress this vast environment. Here, the interior designers proposed large glass doors that could be opened completely and so diffuse the interior office with the exterior terrace. This terrace has wood floors finished with angles on all its borders and surrounded with planters and other stylized lamps. These elements turn this place into a viewpoint, and at night, the neighboring buildings look as they do in big cosmopolitan cities.

The acceptance of this architectural style reflects the progressive attitude of the client, because he allowed the designers creative freedom to do something daring and never seen before in this city. The approved concept on the facade’s image was to use angles and edges on the main elements of the interior.

The main lobby gives a welcome into an austere space that reflects security in simple and modern taste. In this volume two pieces oppose each other: the Vibia Ameba lamp and an exquisite reception desk. The latter is a white Corian piece, designed by the same firm, with a futurist style and pertinently crowned by the suspended lamp. The small planters that surround this space and the touch of yellow on the aluminum panels compensate the warmth that the context might need. The placing of these two elements was carefully analyzed to, finally, be between four concrete columns (one of which is steel but covered to give the space the balance it needed).

Although the client wanted prefabricated concrete panels to cover some walls, the designers found a cement-based material that only needed to be applied as a cover, which achieved the same effect of a prefabricated sheet.  This decision not only simplified its execution, but also reduced the cost and didn’t compromise the structure of the building with more weight.

The image of exposed concrete and revealed metals is dominant in the interior architecture. However, all the revealed metals were painted with a vibrant yellow color, with which it is possible to communicate, unify, and highlight the placement of the aluminum panels and columns and steel beams. On the contrary, the concrete elements were only polished or painted with graphite matte color.

From each elevator lobby a sophisticated arrangement of suspended MDF ceilings breaks out, with a serial angular composition. Practically each piece is an original, because it was the only way to visualize a dynamic rhythm with many angles. These white lacquered pieces generate a high sense of elasticity between the floors and the concrete tiles. The eye is stimulated constantly, trying to understand the arrangement and continuity of the pieces that also, with their spacing, allow seeing at night the complex placement of the European lamps. On the two superior levels these ceilings overlap into the main vestibule and reach the office corridors. Even the modular carpet has designs with angular forms that go hand in hand with the suspended ceiling proposal.

But, truly, the stairs are what seem to be a six-story sculpture. With the exposed concrete footprints, yellow aluminum panels that hide the building’s ducts, yellow exposed steel beams, frosted glass lateral covers that work as great light diffussors and, as the final touch, a stylized stainless steel banister with no intermediate support. On each level, four steel columns also painted yellow and stone colored floors receive these stairs.

The distribution of office space and workstations was coherent with the use of natural light. The decision was made to leave the private offices with large transparent windows and clusters of open workstations to take advantage of the panoramic views in the 360° of the building. Complementing this solution, the main areas have occupation sensors to reduce energy costs. The air conditioning ducts were presented in a circular profile and painted only white and the suspended lamps were placed under them. 

The furniture has a similar language to the interior architecture, expressed in its bases, surfaces, and white filing cabinets, but contrasted with warm vibrant orange. Regardless of the size of the offices, workstations or meeting rooms, all the furniture has the same aesthetic language.

On the typical work levels no wall or glass reaches the slab, but stays aligned at 91 feet to the facade’s aluminum siphon. This allows taking advantage of the concrete structure’s thermal mass and improving the thermal conditions in this vast common space. The client has a teamwork policy and prefers open spaces to private ones.

On the director's level the element of surprise is the double height, that allows a play of suspended ceilings in the vestibule and corridors, where the serial planes pass over the air conditioning ducts and reveal the skylight that finishes off the main stairs. The ash brown laminated wood floors with wide slabs, give a modern aspect to the space, where the challenge was to avoid transitions between doors and achieve very subtle finishes to the columns and walls. The exposed concrete on the walls have subtractions that define the entry and give depth to the environment. With vey little effort, leather furniture in the foyer stands out easily in this context. 

In the main office, although the same color pattern in the furniture as the lower levels was followed, an intriguing amount of pieces of furniture is generated, making us forget their use and turning them into exhibition elements. It looks like a gallery where nothing is out of place and each piece was studied before it’s placing. The austere decoration highlights each element; an orange Danish couch takes advantage of its context to distinguish itself, beautiful tables made of Italian glass, elegant white leather chairs, a select concrete bar, stools with transparent seats, and a long suspended Belgium lamp dress this vast environment. Here, the interior designers proposed large glass doors that could be opened completely and so diffuse the interior office with the exterior terrace. This terrace has wood floors finished with angles on all its borders and surrounded with planters and other stylized lamps. These elements turn this place into a viewpoint, and at night, the neighboring buildings look as they do in big cosmopolitan cities.

It'€™s very difficult for a corporate project to restrict and silence all types of decoration, because, usually, they are perceived as empty offices; but in Grupo Onyx, this gave way to an appreciation of the architectural details that filled these spaces with life, generating an attractive contemporary image.  Also, a positive tension between the interior and exterior is congruent throughout the project. 

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