Oslo Cowork, a minimalist and compact office space designed by BABELstudio represents the new studio of architecture photographer Erlantz Biderbost and a co-working space located in Olabeaga, Bilbao. Situated alongside the Nervion River, the Olabeaga neighbourhood formerly was home to shipyards, industrial plants and warehouses, then left abandoned and forgotten. However, for a few years the area is slowly rediscovered and revitalized. The design brief was to integrate 3-5 working places, a meeting and retreat space, kitchenette, bathroom, and extended storage in a rather small, 39 sqm gross floor area space with double height.
As for the reduced space in the floor plan, the decision of having two levels and taking advantage of the room height conditioned the design process from the earliest design stage on, separating the mezzanine level and its meeting and retreat area from the permanent working places on street level. Instead of pushing the mezzanine level towards the sides or the back wall, BABELstudio decided to organize the space around a central, free-standing volume accommodating all secondary uses plus providing access to the mezzanine platform.
By setting apart the platform from the delimiting walls, the generous double-height is maintained, creating a particular, expressive spatial configuration. The entrance, extended bookshelf, and working area on the main floor are framing the central volume. Lines of tables on each side are composed of several, foldaway tables specially designed for the project in collaboration with ProyectaVeta, rendering high flexibility for various working situations and possible events such as exhibitions when completely folded down. The platform level accommodates the meeting area, serving as well as a retreat for more isolated working situations it allows a view through the new double-height facade to the opposite Zorrozaure island.
The wooden grid structure of the facade is designed to allow an increased open view on the upper level while narrowing the grid to guarantee sufficient privacy on the street level. The interior finishes are reduced: handmade cement tiles in blood-red colour, ash wood for the central volume, tables, and full height bookshelf with brass details. Interiors of the central volume are held in dark green contrasting the red flooring and brass details. The base course is repeating the original and maintained concrete blocks of the ceiling. On the mezzanine level, a grey coloured fitted carpet is used to give it a more private and relaxed atmosphere. The project and consequently the material selection is intended to create a balance of a bright, light-flooded, minimalist studio suitable for concentrated working while offering a calm, warm atmosphere.