Refurbishing old hardware store into new coworking offices
Balius shop in Barcelona's Poble Nou neighborhood welcomes 200 people and pets
A historic hardware store in Barcelona's Poble Nou neighborhood is now home to a 200-person capacity coworking space with dogs allowed. Balius shop has a new name: Loop Ferretería, and so far, only three companies have been installed.
One of which is Rover, a company focused on pet sitters and dog walkers, takes one of the floors welcoming both humans and pets, making the whole building pet friendly.
Located at Carrer de Pere IV street 128, this five-story building used to be one of the landmarks when discussing commerce in the area. This street was the "old road connecting Barcelona by road to the seaside town of Mataró and France," Daniel Modol, architect at Daniel Mòdol urbanism+architecture, said.
Modol is part of the architects' team that refurbished this old building into the new coworking place that opened in late 2022 after four years of planning, two of construction, and a total expense of €5.4 million.
During the designing process, the team had to readapt some of the project's main focuses because of Covid-19, as the property owner took more into account the open spaces, such as terraces, than before.
"While before a terrace was seen as a place for hosting events, it was then changed for a place also to work," Modol said.
Open structure façade
One of the main characteristics of this building is the main façade facing Pere IV street. In the past, it used to be a building with almost no windows, while now, architects have opened the façade to the exterior, including the actual construction structure.
"[At the architect studio,] we considered that the best option was to keep the building's structure and make it visible," Modol said to Catalan News.
"Sometimes these elements, such as this metallic façade, are hidden and do not explain the building's history. In some way, the structure is a testimony of the building as we can see how it kept growing over time," he added.
The façade recovers the original green of this 1970s building, home to Ferreteria Balius, founded in 1914 with the added value that everyone could find any needed material for construction works.
Opening the façade to the structure gave architects the opportunity to plant several plants at the sills of two-meter tall windows going from floor to ceiling.
Ceramics, iron, and wood
Architects have left the old and new structures on sight for all coworking users and visitors to see and understand how the building was made.
Among the main characteristics of the old construction is the 'volta catalana,' or the Catalan vault, which are low arches made of brickwork forming a vaulted ceiling.
But ceilings are not the only traditional objects kept after the refurbishment, others include using ceramics, iron, and wood, with the goal to "create a housy home environment," Modol said, as Covid-19 impacted the designing process.
"The decisions taken when selecting the materials, or the size of the spaces, are all related to wanting to create this comfortable house experience. The warmth of the wood and ceramic are all materials normally used in other cases and are not conventional for offices," Daniel Modol, who was Barcelona's councilor for architecture, urban landscape, and heritage between 2015 and 2017, told this media outlet.