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Monday, July 13, 2009

Showroom Ofimodul

Showroom Ofimodul in Monterrey, Mexico by stación-ARquitectura Arquitectos

Photographs are by Eduardo Hernández.

Appended to a factory for the manufacture of office furniture, the showroom and design center for Ofimodul Company in Monterrey, Mexico is a small intervention (272sm | 2,927sf) that illustrates both the first and last stages in the furniture-making process. Designed by stación-ARquitectura Arquitectos with associate architect Armando Cantú, the intervention addresses both existing conditions, the factory to the side and the parking below, in a simple yet creative manner.

The design is basically a bar raised above a handful of parking spaces via a concrete shear wall, a freestanding column and some columns embedded in walls. The last aids in the lightweight appearance of the glass box, as do the exterior walls that extend to the bottom of the concrete slab, putting it on display unlike the solid cornice that create a strong horizontal above the operable windows. An access stair from the parking below is about all that remains of this appendage, a minimal construction that would easily fail a code review in other locales.

But a look at the floor plans and building sections illustrates that the projecting glass bar of the showroom is only half the story. Embedded inside the factory building is the design center. Where the showroom is open and glazed, the design center is partitioned and painted. Accessed from the showroom by a few steps, one moves past a service zone to the offices and workstations that occupy a space about equal to the showroom, a subtle balancing of importance of the two stages. From the design center employees have a view of the factory floor, yet without the noise disturbance, like watching one's car being washed -- a memory I have from childhood.

With such a small intervention and a minimal palette, the small things make a big difference. The way the glass wall slides past the concrete shear wall towards the stair and the unenclosed space above is one such detail. This maneuver not only provides continuity to the bar, it also extends the realm of the showroom beyond the structure in the small gap between the two perpendicular walls. This is a subtle acknowledgment of the movement of the goods from the showroom to the buyers' homes and offices. Ofimodul have constructed an intervention that sums up their process while situating it within the larger picture.

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