For several years, Bruketa&Žinic OM has occupied offices in a former toilet paper factory, but the space has never been fully adapted to accommodate the agency’s needs.
This year, Brigada was invited to redesign and expand the agency’s office, transforming it into a modern, contemporary creative space that embodies agency values and encourages creativity. Due to the current economic situation, the office remodel required logical and cost-effective solutions to sumptuous ideas. The new office is divided into several different “areas” on three levels, each with its own distinct characteristics and atmosphere. These new, open workspaces are versatile and allow interaction among colleagues. Shared, open spaces encourage collaboration, and therefore are suitable for group work, while smaller, more intimate spaces facilitate individual creativity. The design of the new office incorporates more common areas for interaction, leisure, informal meetings, and teamwork. The main entrance of the agency is on the middle floor. Consisting of a spacious lobby and several meeting rooms, it was largely designed with clients and guests in mind. The lobby is large and airy, equipped with a large welcome desk and several unique chairs – restored classics of Croatian and regional industrial design. Overhead, a transparent box hangs from the ceiling. Dubbed the “jewelry box,” it showcases agency awards, but reveals only their silhouettes through its translucent, illuminated cover.
Down the hall are the men’s and women’s restrooms, connected by a shared, industrial-sized concrete washbasin. This common washroom, as well as the adjoining hallway, is covered in recycled wooden slabs with small, protruding shelves. They are a physical manifestation of the Facebook wall, as people can “publish” on them whatever they like or find interesting. Someone, for instance, has found a spot for displaying his own stunning hotel soap collection.
Downstairs, the bottom floor of the agency has three separate work areas, owing to its U-shaped floor plan. A central “leg” connects the southern and northern legs, but they aren’t visible when standing in the central area. Designed with teamwork in mind, these areas were kept open and airy rather than further divided. The electrical installations on this level called for innovation and technical improvement. Usually, open spaces are equipped with a raised or “computer floor” that contains all electrical wiring. In this case, however, the building’s reduced ceiling height and complicated construction prohibited the use of computer flooring.
Brigada introduced a new solution – a completely new system called “computer ceiling,” comprised of visible metal guides and flexible, red tubes that conceal wiring and hang from the ceiling, providing power for everyone at the desks below, no matter where they choose to sit. Using an overhead hook grid, the tubes can easily be rearranged to accommodate any seating arrangement. This dynamic design solves the issue of open space while incorporating striking visual detail.
Dining, socializing, and administrative activities take place on the top floor of the agency. A gallery with a spacious, open kitchen and a large, common dining table creates a space for colleagues break for lunch, read, gather for coffee, and talk shop. A nearby smoking room, demarcated by a large glass wall, is legally separated while physically integrated into the common area. Tucked away under the smoking room’s bleacher-style seating is a hidden, Japanese-inspired sleeping nook for power naps or quiet reflection.
In choosing materials for the new office, Brigada prioritized simple, recycled or recyclable, and local Croatian products. Different forms of just four primary materials were used: concrete, steel, wood and glass.
To avoid toxic varnishes and hard chemicals, Brigada sought alternative methods to create the desired effects. For instance, the blackened wood frequently used throughout the office was created with a Japanese wood burning technique, while steel surfaces were treated with recycled motor oil instead of varnish. Lightning, usually an expensive item in business spaces, was made much more affordable in the new office by using retail lamp systems, maximizing natural light, and repurposing old lighting. Service spaces, for example, are illuminated by once-forgotten, enameled basement lamps. Recycled street lamps, formerly used on the streets of old villages near Zagreb, now light up the smoking room and staircase. Other design details illustrate Brigada’s mission to create atmosphere and personality with repurposed materials and alternative techniques. An original Lebarovic clock that once told time on Kvaternikov Square in Zagreb now hangs entrance lobby. Office signage is made from the keys of inoperative keyboards found while cleaning out the old offices. The meeting room walls feature decorative patterns created using an old Croatian roller technique that was once used as a more economical alternative to wallpaper. These decorative rollers were hard to find, as was a person who still knows how to use them. The unusual height of the walls also presented a challenge – so a new technique was devised, enabling the painter to roll a 4.5 meter-high wall in one stroke.