How an architecture firm reimagined its workspace in Bolzano, Italy: An interview with the architect Patrik Pedó

The office design is evolving - modern workspace design fosters collaboration and socialisation, along with opportunities for quiet concentration. Think open spaces for activities, such as brainstorming in groups, and private rooms for tasks, such as confidential calls.

Not only this, but design innovation is also playing a major role in shaping the new workspace as more and more corporates express their identity through workspace design. As such, today’s office is no longer a place where you go to work, but an experience.

Modern workspace design promotes productivity and innovation

Cultivating modern workplaces for employees has become a necessity for companies to encourage productivity and innovation. And who can understand the concept of design and layout better than a bunch of ingenious designers and architects? So, when the architecture firm, monovolume architecture + design in Bolzano, Italy, decided to reimagine its inconspicuous commercial property, the creative minds of the firm came up with the idea of an exhilarating work environment. Let’s discover the elements that were paid special attention to in the process from the founding partner of monovolume architecture + design, Patrik Pedó.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: Mr Pedó, before we come to your project, tell us briefly about yourself and your architectural practice.

Pedó: The core team of monovolume architecture + design got to know each other during their joint studies at the University of Innsbruck, from where their successful participation in several competitions began. This laid the foundation for the office, which has been active in the fields of architecture and design since 2003.

From then on, the team has grown steadily and the office space was no longer sufficient. In 2019, the decision was made to look for a new structure. The team's identity can essentially be reduced to three terms:

Commitment- The common goal of contemporary, innovative architecture is the path to a completed result.

Complexity- The sensory overload and the unlimited technical possibilities make the search for priorities and an intelligent reduction through a keen sense of what is important indispensable.

Individuality- The focus is always on people with their special needs and wishes and this is the starting point for innovative, unconventional architecture. Contemporary architecture and outstanding design are the programmes, whereby it is about much more than creating appealing forms.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: What sets your team apart?

Pedó: Traditions and habits are critically questioned, and in the interplay between clients and architects, individual approaches to solutions, surprising overlaps of use, different possible uses are created. Intelligent architecture and cheeky design that react to and make use of their surroundings – with a strong basic idea that consistently runs like a red thread through the entire project – can certainly be considered a trademark for monovolume architecture + design.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: Your newly renovated office building in the heart of Bolzano, Italy is the perfect mix of industrial charm and minimalist chic. What challenges did you face while executing this design style for your commercial interiors?

Pedó: We have chosen the urban aesthetic for our modern workspace design. The building structure in Cavourstraße, which had been vacant for a long time and had a wide variety of uses in the past, became an architecture of revitalisation.

Building on existing structures is always a challenge, especially in this case, as the project had been designed for a completely different use at an earlier stage. Another difficulty was dealing with the static existing structure and division of the rooms. We found a single false ceiling separating the basement from the ground floor. This division did not at all meet the needs of the planned project. The biggest challenge was to bring natural light into the newly envisaged levels, as the rooms had been rather gloomy until then.

To address this issue, the concrete ceiling was removed and replaced by a close-meshed lattice structure consisting of steel girders distributed over several levels. In this way, the traditional concept of floors was dissolved, and an interplay of different platforms connected by stairs and bridges was created. The different heights and various recesses create views and vistas, various angles of vision and connections that contribute to communication but also ensure privacy for meetings, for example. The above-mentioned areas provide space for open workplaces, waiting rooms, the entrance with reception, a large communal area for meetings or to spend time in, and various adjoining rooms.

Two large skylights on the roof surface bring natural light to the top floor and through a cut in the ceiling to the middle floor. Three large windows on the main façade, facing Cavourstrasse, allow natural light to penetrate the entire volume, thanks to the transparent wall and floor surfaces that extend into the conference rooms on the lowest floor.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: How does the new agile, modern workspace design of your office help your team?

Pedó: Teamwork is our top priority and this had to be reflected in the architecture of the new office. The open and staggered levels promote and strengthen interactive working. A direct and quick exchange is possible across the three levels. The openings in the ceiling and the floor glazing create visual relationships that facilitate and promote fast and direct communication.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: The design flaunts structural elements. Every detail is just right. Could you please walk us through the details you paid close attention to?

Pedó: By removing the existing ceiling, a very generous volume with "loft character" was created. This spaciousness had to be preserved even after the new levels were inserted. The existing 5 massive columns, which could not be removed for structural reasons, had to be integrated into the project. We decided to leave them with their rough irregular surface. They were painted black and the rebars, which were revealed by removing the ceiling, were gilded. In keeping with this "rough lux design", the new steel girders of the ceilings, the stairs and railings were also kept in untreated black steel. The newly installed ventilation ducts were also deliberately left visible.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: The surface-mounted switch design also catches the eye. Why did you choose the Gira Studio design line and the Gira System 106 for door communication?

Pedó: The selected Gira Studio switch series fits perfectly into the new appearance. With the very elegant switches and the surface-mounted cables in stark contrast to them, the switches could be optimally attached to the existing supports.

Together with the black supports and the visible gold-plated reinforcement bars, they form an eye-catcher in the new office.

The Gira System 106 door combination integrated into the mailbox at the entrance already gives a small foretaste of what to expect when you enter the new office.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: To what extent did energy efficiency and sustainability play a role in this project?

Pedó: Great importance was also given to energy-saving measures: the office is Klimahaus R certified. The ecological well-being is ensured by the integration of all the heating and air conditioning, the electrical systems, which are operated by a smart control system, and the lighting. The entire system is connected to the KNX interface via the Gira X1 and can also be regulated and controlled from outside via the smartphone.

G-Pulse Editorial Team: One last question, Mr. Pedó. What do you personally like best about this project?

Pedó: The most noteworthy aspect is certainly the positive effect the modern workspace design has had on the team. The open plan design has further enhanced interactive working. The spacious central communal area with a kitchenette is an ideal and popular place to exchange ideas, eat together or have a quick "caffetino".

G-Pulse Editorial Team: Thank you for talking with us.

What do you think of the modern and agile design of the monovolume architecture + design office, bursting with industrial charm? Let us know in the comments below.

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