Into The Woods

Into The Woods

A location can be inspiring, especially if you can make a strong connection between your workspace interior and the surrounding environment.  Spanish architects Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano built an office for their architectural practice, Selgascano, in the woods near Madrid.  Their design uses modern materials with a decidedly ‘futuristic’ look to bring the rustic atmosphere within arms-length of every occupant.

The designers note that their goal was simple: to work under the trees.  They call it an “estudio en Verde,” a studio in the greenery.

The long, low structure nestles demurely under the tree canopy.  A kind of railroad-car layout has tables running down the south side of the building, with a continuous access passage alongside them down the north side.

The entire northern half of the building is an arched 20mm (.78 in) thick transparent plexiglass window wall/ceiling, presenting views of trees and sky to the inhabitants, and flooding the whole interior with the light and color of the forest (what Ken Kesey called the “lime:light” that filters through the leaves).

The southern half is a translucent, insulated FRP sandwich that shields the interior from direct sun and provides a sense of shelter directly over the designers tables.  Two layers of FRP (fiberglass and polyester) enclose an insulating core of white translucent polyethylene foam insulation. The entire package is 110mm (4.3 in) thick, and translucent enough to reveal the steel support structure within, and the shadows of the trees from beyond.

The two ends of the building are made of 10 mm opal white perspex on a steel frame.  By means of pulleys and counterweights, they can be partially or fully opened to control air circulation throughout the building.

One can’t help but imagine the effect of working in the space while it rains, and indeed, this aspect caused the designers to wax poetic:  “Y para acabar daremos un toque algo menos.., algo más…húmedo: son los días de lluvia, esa lluvia, cuando llueve, las gotas de lluvia sobre el plástico, cuando lo golpean, a veces pocas, a veces muchas, … a veces un sonido,… te dejas llevar,… a veces qué son,…idos.”

Photographs by Iwan Baan via