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.