THE UNDERGROUND DEN

Núñez de Balboa co-working

Madrid, 2016

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Located in semi-basement premises in Núñez de Balboa street, Madrid, “The Underground Den” is a singular space dedicated to business, productive and creative cooperation that aims to develop the idea of “start-ups” setting up in our own garages.

Lots of companies’ projects saw their beginnings behind the roller shutters of their own garages. Nowadays, their founders often forget to highlight where their corporative titans started to sprout or, maybe, these seeds were simply unlearnt. Consequently, we admittedly take the powerful and accessible garage-space’s assets so as to apply them in “The Underground Den” with the intention of triggering a new synergy among the entrepreneurial agents. From this endeavour, not only will a coworking space be created, but a new project with a gargantuan social, economic and business potential will be born. If from only one isolated garage, lots of great companies and referral contemporary projects have stemmed from, why not to merge many garages into an only unique space in order to exponentially boost their entrepreneurs’ production capacity?

Starting from difficult spatial conditions, in 190m² premises that counted with just one daylight source, low heights and an old office layout considerably distant from our concept of shared space, the proposal carries out a “layout” around an only central space. The “garages” (offices) are distributed throughout the premises’ perimeter, keeping a cracked geometry on both horizontal and vertical plan that attains a light oblique reflexion so that it reaches the store’s previously dark background. Likewise, these cracked facings achieve another two main objectives: on one hand, they create a central coworking space different from the perimeter offices that works as a transit area where all participant agents are able to swap ideas and resources, and, on the other hand, the crackings are also a tool for the ceiling heights design so as to generate a space that descends and redirects occupants towards a more intimate area, of gathering and concentration at the bottom of “the underground den”.

The architectonic technologies of the garage are applied, following the reutilization, recycling and creativity spirit rooted in the start-ups’ nature that we intend to promote. The central coworking space is surrounded by cracked walls covered by backlighted metallic roller shutters that offer the possibility of closing and opening the garages depending on the presence of the companies’ owners in the space. In this way, every garage takes part in this common project of business creation, but without losing the creative individuality of each enterprise group. Meanwhile, bike tyres are reused in order to transform them into luminaires suspending form the central ceiling, wood boxes are recycled and refurbished to use them as furniture pieces, a yellow and black stripped floor sash is created in order to differentiate the flow and the working areas, and domestic warm materials, such as birch wood or artificial turf, are combined with industrial materials, such as the white polycarbonate ceiling and the anodised aluminium roller shutters, playing, thus, with the habitability natural from the intersection between the house comfort and the garage’s informality and functionality.

At the same time, lots of strategies are used in order to maximise the daylight access and the efficacy of itself, applying the white colour on walls and ceilings, using a tightened mirrored ceiling that enhances the breadth spatial sensation in the background of the premises, or partitioning the offices with white translucent glass in most of the facings, albeit transparent in its top part, achieving privacy for workers.

Spatially breaking the contrast between the seriousness and the formality of work timetables and the creativity and the informality of the chill out timetables, has been another of premises of “the Underground Den”. The space is finally understood as an only unfolding space of light coloured glass partitions, white brick walls and industrial metallic roller shutters, admitting numerous elements of furniture and vegetation depending on the context and the companies at any moment. And, at any time, there will be new projects starting up behind the roller shutters of a garage.

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Design Credits:


Architecture and interior design by CLAVEL ARQUITECTOS


Partners in Charge: Manuel Clavel Rojo / Luis Clavel Sainz

Team: Robin Harloff, David Gil Delgado, David Hernández Conesa

Photography: David Frutos (BISimages)

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