The architecture firm PMMT, internationally recognised for its over 25 years of experience in the healthcare sector and the development of innovative research projects, has made its new Barcelona office a space that transmits its values and philosophy. The space allows clients and collaborators to experience for themselves the added value of the healthy, inclusive solutions it incorporates into all of its projects. Workplace and universal design showroom, the new office of PMMT Arquitectura is located in Barcelona’s 22@ district, in an industrial building that used to house a biscuit factory. The space has been rehabilitated with the ultimate aim of providing its team with an inspiring creative environment, as well as incorporating two of the criteria that are inherent in the firm’s way of understanding and approaching architecture: inclusion and health. For PMMT, an architecture practice based on RDI, these two values lie at the heart of ongoing research and have produced methodologies such as Friendly Materials® and Clear Code Architecture©. Clear Code Architecture© is the product of ongoing investigation, allowing objective evaluation of the universal accessibility of a place and helping to improve it. The application of these parameters enables all users to work in equal conditions, with a view to creating a more egalitarian society. To this end, interventions in the new office include a ramp from street level to the entrance, allowing access to people with impaired mobility. The Clear Code marker is situated at the entrance to help visitors find their way around.
At this point, a tactile map indicates all the spaces in the office, with their names in three languages (Spanish, Catalan and English) and Braille. So that people who cannot see know they are entering the right place, the symbols in Braille then correspond with the confirmation of destination included on the door handles of each room. Meanwhile, throughout the space, groups of people with visual diversity have an accessible route marked with tactile paving. Another original development by PMMT Arquitectura, the Friendly Materials® methodology, analyses how our health is affected by the materials, chemical compounds, construction systems and the new 460 m2 space as a whole. The parameters produced by this study were applied to design an office which, architecturally, contributes actively and positively to the health of its occupants and the environment. Added to these criteria is the priority of organising the place with the comfort of the team in mind, to promote a broad variety of uses, and encourage creativity and innovation. This takes the form of combining open areas for the exchange of knowledge and proposals with closed spaces to facilitate processes that require more privacy and concentration.
The Open Space area includes spaces such as Forward Thinking and Brainstorming, both environments that encourage the different and diverse teams that make up PMMT Arquitectura to enter into debate, put forward ideas and improve their work thanks to collective talent. Forward Thinking hosts meetings, conferences and training sessions, and has an “innovation panel” where interesting articles are posted and solutions to problems proposed. It also functions as a canteen for sharing coffees and celebrations, basically a place of relaxation to reduce stress and increase motivation at work. While all the walls and movable panels that form the space of the Brainstorming Room can be drawn and written on, there are no chairs to ensure that people remain alert, and details like a linoleum floor introduces colour to stimulate creativity and innovation.
The closed spaces, on the other hand, include the Silence Room, a place for concentration and silence disconnected from the rest of the activity going on in the office; the large Meeting Room, with a projection screen, camcorder with microphone and magnetic loop, a device that transforms the voice into magnetic signals and sends them to hearing aids or implants so that users with hearing impairments can hear clearly, and Slow Meeting, a room with sofas and indirect light that encourage relaxed, private talks. The new office of PMMT Arquitectura has ergonomic furnishing, and uses vegetation to stimulate wellbeing and improve the atmosphere and productivity. Solutions like bicycle parking promote sport and health. All interventions highlight PMMT’s commitment to its workers, the client, and the values it promotes.
PMMT SPACES The paradigm shift in space design
To guarantee universal accessibility in the new office, it implements the criteria of the Clear Code Architecture© method, an in-house creation of PMMT. This method guarantees the inclusion of everyone in the use of built spaces and, therefore, in society. Situated at the entrance, the Clear Code© marker guides and directs visitors around the showroom. The marker includes a tactile map with a raised surface featuring all the spaces that make up the office. The name of each space or room is written in both conventional and Braille writing. Its name in Braille corresponds with the confirmation of destination placed on the door handles, indicating to a visually impaired person that they are entering the right place.
CLEAR CODE AND FRIENDLY MATERIALS
These rooms, as well as hosting meetings, store knowledge about the methodologies created by PMMT: Clear Code© and Friendly Materials®, a method used to gauge the level of health of any indoor space. There are manuals, standards, books and regulations consulted and created; catalogues and projects with companies PMMT has worked with, and awards it has won, etc.
FORWARD THINKING, WHERE THE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY
This multipurpose space functions as a canteen, where team feeling is fostered; it is also a space where ideas are exchanged, thanks to the paintable, magnetised walls that display part of the firm’s collective intelligence. This is also where training takes place, as it is equipped with a projector, folding partitions and a magnetic loop. The magnetic loop is a device that transforms the voice into magnetic signals and sends them directly to hearing aids or implants so that users with hearing impairments can hear clearly.
The library comprises magazines, manuals, books and monographs for consultation. Other activities also take place here, such as after-lunch coffees and debates on topics of interest.
CLEAR CODE® BATHROOM, EVERYONE’S FAVOURITE 100% ACCESSIBLE BATHROOM
This bathroom has everything an adapted facility needs: it is lit by a presence detector, has a fall alarm with an audio alert, the wall tiles are a contrasting colour to the fittings and the non-slip floor, and there are technical aids, and, finally, adapted and adjustable fittings.
THE LOCKER ROOM, AN EXAMPLE OF REASONABLE ADJUSTMENTS
PMMT weighs up all factors when designing a space that can be used by everyone. One example is its cloakroom, with a solution that allows people in wheelchairs to hang up their own jackets.
This room is used both for more relaxed talks and for reading. The choice of furniture, lighting and shades makes for a more informal atmosphere.
This is the main room and also the most formal. This is where video conferences and Skype take place, and it also has a magnetic loop device.
SHHHH SILENCE ROOM
As the pictograms show, there is no talking or mobile use in this room. It’s a room not for sharing ideas but for tasks that require concentration, such as working on a line of investigation. This is why people in the Silence Room cannot be interrupted.
This is a place that encourages creativity and innovation. It is a flexible space that can be set up in different ways, where users can draw and write on all the walls, as it is made up of large, superposed sliding panels. This makes it possible to add ideas rather than erasing ones that were there before.
SIGNAGE. BARRIERS CAN BE COMMUNICATIVE, TOO
To avoid barriers at PMMT, the signage used throughout includes guides and confirmation of destination in each room. Both types of elements use pictograms for people with understanding difficulties, large print, easy-read fonts, and relief for people with visual difficulties; as well as several languages, including Braille.