Office of Architecture in Barcelona’s striking white form reflects the topography of its mountainous surroundings. Photography by Alejo Bagué
The Office of Architecture in Barcelona (OAB) blends youth and experience. Born of the Carlos Ferrater Partnership’s 40-year legacy, OAB is described by founder Carlos Ferrater as both ‘a certified “laboratory of ideas” and a professional company of the highest standard’.
Since its inception in 2006 the firm, co-founded with Xavier Martí, Lucía Ferrater and Borja Ferrater, has expanded with great success.Its latest building, the Azahar Group’s headquarters, is designed to give identity to a group of companies committed to promoting sustainable practice in the fields of landscape design, recycling and waste treatment, environmental consultancy and construction.
Situated on a 5.6ha coastal site between Castellón de la Plana and Benicàssim in Spain, its striking white form (finished with a self-cleaning, flexible stucco) was devised to reflect the dramatic topography of its mountainous surroundings. These forms also combine to create a new topography in which the individual companies find their own unique place.
Orientated on an east-west axis, the plan is formed by two near-linear wings that buckle to create three distinct interstitial territories, which are resonant with, but purposefully isolated from, the landscape beyond.
In contrast to the building’s blank exterior, its inner faces are fully glazed and open to the new internalised landscape, revealing interiors that faithfully trace the roof’s cranked cross-section.
Approached from the west, visitors cross a patio - a ‘parade ground’ that functions as an external reception area. To the east, a more enclosed, concave area provides external space with a greater sense of privacy and intimacy. In between is a large internal foyer; a central patio that unifies the two wings of cellular accommodation with a soaring toplit roof at the heart of the plan. Open to the north, this space is filled with light borrowed by adjacent rooms.
The building’s form is more than a picturesque response to its setting; it serves to create a sheltered and controlled environment. Even the roof makes a contribution, collecting all run-off water in a reservoir to irrigate the adjacent landscape.
Architect Office of Architecture in Barcelona, Spain
Project team Carlos Ferrater, Núria Ayala, Emilio Llobat, Teresa Ribeiro