According to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), the word holism is defined as the “doctrine that advocates the conception of each reality as a whole that is distinct from the sum of its parts”. This doctrine, applied to Architecture, allows us to understand that the union of each projected part of a building, space, or object does not define the final result, but that this, from a general point of view, is something more complex. The work of the architectural office W.O.H.A. is proposed under these optics. (World of Holistic Architecture) directed by the architects Antonio Maciá Mateu and Ana Mora Vitoria.
Ph: David Frutos – BIS IMAGES
The last work completed by W.O.H.A. is, precisely, the workspace of the studio itself. As in all the works of the studio, there is a starting point or a reference to follow to put into practice this holistic vision linked to Architecture. The studio’s project is based on the landscaped courtyards that form part of the traditional dwellings in the rural environment of Elche, in which vegetation and earth-colored materials predominate, such as pieces of terracotta, earth or mortar paving that use the surrounding soil.
The workspace occupies premises situated on the ground floor of a corner building that is open to the street through four large glass panels. The designed space is the result of creating a “landscaped inner courtyard” using continuous concrete pavements inlaid with pieces of glazed terracotta. This pavement is a mini-project and forms the base to harmoniously add another eight: the planters, the work table, the installations, the wardrobe, the ceramic wall, the bathroom, the scent, and the dummy.
Ph: David Frutos – BIS IMAGES
The first of these contemplates the installation of a series of longitudinal planters situated on the perimeter of the premises that have natural lighting and configure the garden of this “interior courtyard”. The plants, in addition to their drip-irrigation system, have a reinforcement of artificial light that allows them to advance towards the ceiling, which is finished with a projection of rough-finished plaster that will favor the adhesion of the plants in the short term. This aspect gives the designed space a changing character as it is configured with a living “material” that grows and transforms it over time.
Once the foundations of the “interior garden courtyard” have been laid, it is necessary to design the work areas and, as in any space where creative actions are carried out, it is necessary to comply with a series of premises: direct and indirect conversation, isolation, closeness, separation or different levels of visual relationship between the people who form a team. The response to these conditioning factors could give rise to the design of individual pieces that respond to each one of them. However, the proposal seeks to unify them and proposes the design of a single table that meets all these conditioning factors. The design of the table includes a series of natural plants that allow the visual relations between the members of the team that use it to be sieved.
The planters need a series of conduits that allow them to carry the drip irrigation installation and the table needs the appropriate artificial lighting: the third mini-project appears. This develops a system of yellow watering hoses forming interlaced catenaries and attached to the ceiling which, as well as characterizing the space, contain the ducts for the watering and lighting installations they need.
Every workspace needs a storage area. Mini project 4: the cabinet. Two layers of sinuous geometry separated from the blind longitudinal wall of the room define a storage area. The first one is formed by pine strips of 4×6 cm separated by 2 cm and the second one is formed by a curtain of white thread. Both layers intersect giving longitudinal continuity to the workspace and allow us to assess the degree of transparency of the material shown, hinted at or hidden, thus assessing what is shown, models…, and what is not, materials and documents or the service area.
The ceramic wall delimits, within the workspace, the meeting room. In the fifth mini-project, the layout of the bricks, placed at 90°, the curvature of their shapes and the use of carpeting in the back and floor of the room are indicated, so that they favor the acoustic conditions of this subspace without the need to isolate it 100% spatially.
The sixth defines the service area that is hidden behind the layer of wire and forms an office and a bathroom. The latter is designed as a “bathtub” one meter high finished with a green iridescent tile mesh. This base serves as a support for the mirrors that fill the four walls of the bathroom, causing the already known “sensation of infinity”.
Ph: David Frutos – BIS IMAGES
Finally, the search for the right smell to the created environment and the placement of the dummy introducing the concept of reuse, form the last two micro-projects.
The design of each one of these mini-projects and their addition do not by themselves define the designed workspace, but it is their correct interruption that makes it possible to obtain a more complex project that directly affects the users of the space, how they perceive it, a slowly changing space, the concentration and relaxation of the work team, the environment, the smell. These are aspects that directly influence the users beyond the design of a table, a piece of furniture, or a garden.
In short, the direct user (equipment) and the indirect user (the pedestrian) are the final receivers of this space and, therefore, are the main focus of the architectural action.
DATE: 2019 / LOCATION: Elche, Alicante, Spain / AREA: 125 m2 (built) / PROGRAM: office / STATUS: built / DESIGN: WOHA ARQUITECTURA (Antonio Maciá, Ana Mora) / COLLABORATORS: Francisco Rodríguez, Cristina Giner / CONSTRUCTION: Nuevo Tecnoluz (lightning), Justo Carbonell (landscape), Todobarro (floors) / PHOTOS: David Frutos – BIS IMAGES