Sited on the outskirts of Barcelona, D38 Zona Franca is an office complex designed to grow as an accretion of modular units, in a similar way to a gothic or Mediterranean village. By defining a series of rules, regulations and building systems rather using fixed massing to form a masterplan, the final outcome is generated by the interplay of these rules and the market forces unfolding during the implementation of the project.
The complex comprises six virtual volumes, each with a restricted height, a position on plan with views directly out onto the main road and each governed by a set of rules. Just as the material and technological limitations in gothic or Mediterranean villages produced a repetition of form, so the design parameters produce consistency between the buildings, creating a continuous and differentiated fabric of buildings rather than relying on the qualities of individual buildings. Since only 50% of the footprint may touch the ground and at least 25% must be roofed by the building, ground is liberated for public use, producing an urban fabric in which sheltered public spaces and buildings are tightly integrated.
The buildings themselves are capable of hosting a wide variety of workspace types – from professional small bureaus to conventional 2-bay cellular offices, from “Kombi” types to deep plan offices for large organisations, to trading floors – forming a new typology of commercial space which both gives developers the freedom to change the floorplate quality as tenants become engaged. The masterplan is therefore capable to adjust to the inevitable shifts in the office space market. Uncertainty acts as a driver of differentiation rather than as a friction to implementing the formal properties of the masterplan.
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