From heating plant to co-working centre
Studio Perspektiv has transformed a historic industrial landmark into a modern office building. Bratislava’s former heating plant, designed in functionalist style by architect Dušan Jurkovič, now serves as a spacious Base4Work co-working centre.
There are very few remaining buildings in Bratislava with an industrial past. But one of them now offers an ultra-modern and completely encouraging glimpse of the future. The renovated functionalist heating plant, originally designed by architect Dušan Jurkovič, recently reopened as a modern Base4Work co-working centre. This was achieved by developers Penta Real Estate and the creative design team at Studio Perspektiv.
Second Base4Work centre
For Czech architectural firm Studio Perspektiv, known for sophisticated office projects, this completes its second Base4Work co-working centre. The first is located in Prague’s Churchill Complex, and this impressive second venture is now housed in Bratislava’s industrial landmark.
The original historic building already had much to offer lovers of architecture. Although the Jurkovič heating plant may seem a simple structure at first glance, it boasts a fascinating array of architectural elements, including art nouveau, modernism and functionalism. This required special care during renovation to ensure that the original details and Dušan Jurkovič’s signature style remained as intact as possible.
Co-working at its finest
The developers wanted to create a stimulating, multifaceted workspace – one that brings together different user groups, from corporate clients to start-ups and freelancers, in the extraordinary setting of a national cultural monument.
Its surrounding area also has a remarkable history. The heating plant is located in an old part of town that was once home to a number of industrial complexes, which explains why this zone was heavily bombed during the Second World War. Afterwards, it remained neglected for many years. This changed with the launch of the Sky Park project: Penta Real Estate set out to re-establish this area as a vibrant part of the larger city centre.
Several renowned architectural firms were recruited for this ambitious project, including Zaha Hadid. Sky Park was one of the last projects of this starchitect, who died in 2016.
Studio Perspektiv architects Ján Antal and Barbora S. Babocká described their concept for the Jurkovič heating plant: “In designing the interior, we took into account the context of the original monument and the new building. We endeavoured to complement the space and connect with it, both in style and in the geometry of the new elements. And we made sure that both the new and original elements were clearly recognizable.”
A new five-storey building was placed inside the boiler and turbine hall to create a new space. Other industrial elements of the heating plant can also be found in the modern Base4Work co-working centre. The entire interior is dominated by concrete hoppers, with the original crane forming the atypical open ceiling of the shared office.
Experts at work
The architectural approach is the work of the DF Creative Group. Renovation of the building shell was the responsibility of PAMARCH, which specializes in the preservation and reconstruction of historic monuments.
The former heating plant now provides a total of 3,900 square metres of flexible workspace that can accommodate roughly 450 people. The architects’ concept reflects the typology of the Prague Base4Work co-working centre. This resulted in a diversity that meets the needs of different users.
Individual and communicative
Each level has fixed desks, hot desks, separate offices, a telephone booth, a workshop and meeting rooms for 4 to 18 people. During the day, clients can also use shared lounges and an attractive meeting and networking zone.
The second-floor entrance area serves as the communicative hub of the entire Base4Work co-working centre and combines a lobby with a café and workstations. Here, Studio Perspektiv uses graphic elements to present Dušan Jurkovič’s work in the interior.
Inspired by the origins
The team drew inspiration for its motifs from the style of the original architect. The existing decorative ornamentation was broken down into primary factors as lighting elements on the walls or engraved cabinets.
Instead of traditional carpentry work, the architects opted to use a CNC milling machine, and fibreboards were used instead of solid wood. Babocká explains: “The craftsmanship and contemporary materials in their raw essence form a unifying motif for each floor.” The steel structures are softened by perforations to create a historical contrast with the legacy dating back to the early period of Jurkovič’s work.
Open ceilings, warm colours
The colour palette is based on the shades of terracotta that are characteristic of the building’s shell, complemented by muted deep tones of blue, green and black. Its ceilings remain open, while the floors in the shared areas are made of wood or large ceramic tiles.
The massive concrete hoppers were used to store solid fuels in the former heating plant. They serve completely different purposes in the new Base4Work co-working centre, though. As visual accents, they now highlight the spaciousness of the interior. And the clever concept of the Studio Perspektiv team has put these huge structures to good use: the architects have managed to accommodate some of the meeting rooms in this space.
In the two meeting rooms on the fifth floor, Studio Perspektiv has experimented with glass floor panels, as Antal explains: “The result is an iconic space that everyone wants to see, even those who are afraid of heights.”
Emphasis is placed on acoustics in meeting rooms and offices, where carpets and wall coverings create a pleasant, quiet ambience.
The architects used recycled and natural materials, like environmentally-friendly ReFelt acoustic panels that are made from recycled PET bottles. The boutique mood of the whole interior is enhanced by the roof terrace with an adjacent bar.
Base4Work with so much more
Studio Perspektiv has cleverly used the complex structure of the building to provide flexibility and create several comfort zones. The renovated space also includes the DOT. Espresso Bar & Contemporary Art Gallery, an event space and a restaurant in the Medusa gastro group network.
All of this breathes new life into this important architectural icon. Projects like Renzo Piano’s “cultural powerhouse” in Moscow and the Royal Stables in Hanover that were converted by Haberland Arkitekten also prove that preserving and converting historical buildings is well worth the effort.
The tenants of the new Base4Work co-working centre will surely be delighted with this successful renovation of the heating plant. And the city of Bratislava has been enriched with a modern creative hotspot.
Text: Elisabeth Schneyder
Translation: Rosemary Bridger-Lippe
Images: BoysPlayNice / Studio Perspektiv
that might interest you
Technology meets architecture: in Silicon Valley, internet giant Google has constructed a building complex based on its very own vision for the first time. With its sustainable design, the Bay View Campus is geared towards the future of work.
A special kind of discovery world is taking shape in Gothenburg, where Swedish vehicle manufacturer Volvo is using timber construction and nature to create its World of Volvo. The components and engineering for Henning Larsen’s design are being provided by Austrian firm Wiehag.
Danish architects 3XN are operating a separate division called GXN that develops green innovations. In this interview, Kim Herforth Nielsen and Kåre Poulsgaard talk about behavioural design, carbon as a market driver, and their radical high-rise project in Sydney.
Non-profit association Aktion Mensch has an emphatic motto – “Together we will win”. Inclusion is especially important to this private charity, which runs a lottery to support social projects. Its focus is also reflected in the organization’s new head office in Bonn, Germany. The design concept by the Ippolito Fleitz Group takes diversity as a central theme. And it also turns interior design into a strong framework for displaying the humane side to life.
In the Vietnamese metropolis Ho Chi Minh City, an increasing number of new office towers are shooting skyward. Local architectural office MIA Design Studio makes sure that nature isn’t forgotten in the process. Even if it has to flourish inside busy interiors.
Timber construction can be decidedly high-tech, as illustrated by the head office built for SR Bank in Stavanger, Norway. Bjergsted Financial Park offers workplaces that are fit for the future, and it is among Europe’s largest engineered timber buildings.
Sejet Plant Breeding in Denmark develops modern grain varieties. The company cultivates plants using state-of-the-art, sustainable technology, and has adopted the same approach for its new entrance building, designed by GinnerupArkitekter.
Good news for local fauna: The dedication of not-for-profit organization CABI to combatting climate change through innovative agricultural solutions is reflected in the architecture of its new headquarters in England.
Alan Hofmann is a building engineer and timber constructor from Austria. His company Woodplan occupies a digital niche for building projects around the world. In this interview he describes his interpretation of intelligent offices, and how an office can be smart in an old Austrian building.
In everyday office life, automation is especially key to success. Lighting, sound, shading, heating, cooling, ventilation and access systems can be operated centrally with intelligent controls by Loxone.
The new co-working space Hammerbrooklyn in Hamburg is designed to be a place of inspiration and creativity. Besides its passion and dedication, this curated community thrives on a desire for innovation and thirst for the future.
Cologne is home to one of Germany’s most digitalized office buildings, known as The Ship. Inspired by its success as a model of contemporary working, a second project is being added just next door: the Vorum.
Heralding a bright future in an innovative, exciting location, this robotics centre in Denmark designed by 3XN is expected to become the perfect place to work. It is a Cobot Hub for the employees at two companies. And also for the robots developed there.
Big tech can actually be avoided. The small Swiss company Infomaniak is taking on digital office tech giants like Zoom and Microsoft. Without any charges or advertising, it is offering videoconferencing that can also be used by inexperienced users.
In Istanbul the two spectacular towers for Ziraat Bank have grown high into the sky. While their shape is oriented on traditional calligraphy, the interior displays state-of-the-art technical features.
Inspired by traditional survival strategies of experienced miners, the architects at 3XN/GXN have “bred” a stylish canary that takes care of our health in the workplace.
As he was constantly on the move, technology entrepreneur Jeff Kleck was looking for a clever solution for a live-work space. His brilliant idea? To convert an old Airstream into what is probably the world’s best mobile smart office, which he calls “Kugelschiff”.
Automated machine communication is enabling new applications. In predictive maintenance, smart lifts indicate whether they are working or need attention.
You’ve seen smart homes, now it’s time for smart buildings. Cube Berlin, an office complex that controls itself via artificial intelligence, opened in early 2020.
Andreas Thamm is a “smart office” expert. As Chairman of the Management Board at UBM Development Germany, he is steering the company towards an intelligent future. It is an issue that is particularly relevant in times of COVID-19.
In China, Zaha Hadid Architects are building two 400-metre giant structures that make sensational use of digital possibilities. With its smart solutions, Tower C is efficient and, above all, environmentally friendly.
Architecture studio Foster + Partners have designed an extraordinary office tower for the heart of Buenos Aires. As a sustainable and flexible building, Avenida Cordoba 120 is set to provide more than just an optimum working environment. Its public space is intended to enhance the entire district.
The office complex ICÔNE has been created by the architects at Foster + Partners as an elegant answer to current working trends. This new flex office building is currently under construction in Luxembourg’s Belval Quarter, where urban renewal is set to create the city’s new “best address”.
The new showpiece unveiled by Swatch is not a watch, but office architecture at its finest. To create the reptilian curves of the new Swatch headquarters in Biel, star architect Shigeru Ban has built one of the world’s largest timber-framed constructions.
Internet giant Google wants to do more than provide the right answers every time on the digital front. With the construction of the new headquarters in Silicon Valley, it wants to supply the solution to every workplace problem. Specifically, it aims to revolutionize working environments completely!