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(Un)Curtain Office, Slovenia: Unveiling Organisational Dynamics

Posted by
on January 20, 2016 at 03:56 PM

Drapes are archaic. Or, purely residential in application. Who puts up curtains in an office these days when blinds and partitions present a sleeker option? But, wait!  Dekleva Gregoric Arhitekti have delivered a state-of-the-art Slovenian office interior just recently in 2014, constituting an easily transformable plan that answers the need for different types of spaces required at different times in an office of today, using – yes – curtains!

© Courtesy of internet resources

An office, these days, is not just a space where a worker sits at an appointed desk from 9 to 5, administered by a management that is restricted to their cabins. The nature of the working day has become very dynamic, involving different activities in which some or all of the staff has to part-take. There are, besides desk work, one-on-one discussions, group work sessions, group discussions, conferences, presentations, board-only presentations and meetings, lunch meetings, lunch, tea, un-wind and break-out hours, brain storming sessions, brain storming breakout sessions, Skype meetings and so on; and the office infrastructure needs to cater to all these. 

A contemporary office was to be created in a 350 sq m space acquired by a Slovenian firm in a building whose construction dated back to 1938 in the capital city of Ljubljana. The architects Dekleva Gregoric and team were faced with the task of creating a design flexible enough to accommodate all the changing needs of space as per the varying activities during the course of a working day at the office. 

Being a composite structure, with a central row of concrete columns centrally supporting a wide- spanning roof slab resting on loadbearing external walls, the building and the space acquired within it supported an open plan system. The use of modular furniture units further supports the ability to easily and quickly change spatial arrangements as per requirement. The re-strengthening that the structure needed was provided by cladding the columns with external carbon reinforcements and layering the floor slab with additional concrete. This carbon panelling on columns and a trowelled concrete floor also served to lend character to the space.

The desks, or workstations, being modular units allow for various permutations. Having a drawer-chest topped with a planter creates a mini-garden at each desk, also enabling a natural partition between adjacent desks. These are disposed on either side of the central column row, creating an aisle or corridor along the central spine.

And, finally, the scheme is ‘wrapped up’ by providing floor-to-ceiling monochrome curtains around each unit of working area, suspended from rails embedded neatly in the ceiling. These drapes can be drawn open or closed in many alternative options, to create different types and sizes of spaces as per the need of the moment. The large conference area, for example, can double up as a lunch table with an attached library and pantry. Or, the large common working area on either side of the columns can be divided into smaller private work spaces when needed.

The rhythmic, fluted beige curtain surfaces create a pleasing poetry, particularly along the central spine when highlighted by the black carbon clad columns. The entire scheme is laid out in a muted almost-monochrome palette, giving way to textures to do all the expressing.  And, of course, the highlight of the design is the flexibility of spaces that matches its step with an increasingly restless and impulsive business culture.

Further than the apparent, this design gives us exciting ideas. What if bold colours were to be used, as per the current generation’s trends? Or, have the curtains to be operated by remote control? Perhaps, work could be done on the sound absorbing capacity of the curtain fabric to add the advantage of sound proofing! In parting, one cannot help but reflect on the agelessness of any design element. Nothing can ever be written off as obsolete; who knows in what avatar it will make a come-back to rock the scene?!

Designer : Dekleva Gregoric Architects, Slovenia
Photography :internet resources

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