NORTH / Skylab Architecture

Architects: Skylab Architecture
Location: Portland,
Project Year: 2007
Site Area: 929 sqm
Client: NORTH Advertising
Photographs: Architecture


NORTH is not an advertising agency. They are a team of designers, writers, creative directors, film, and music makers joined by an expeditionary force landing them in the Pacific Northwest. They asked Skylab Architecture to help them to create a space that was not an office.

Based on the idea of a polar research expedition to the frontier, a 10,000 square foot basecamp was designed. The design responds to alternative social interactions-cooking, eating, lounging, and gaming-that inspire creative work. Workstations are replaced with modular structures, furniture and equipment defined around activity. Collaboration is based on portability and a cluster-on-demand breakaway from the traditional static office.

floor plan

The basecamp tent, a white existing building shell, is left untouched. Interior walls and structures come to the edge, but are not fixed to the shell. A single connection point provides fiber cable and utility function. The building, a former home to a printing business, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Pine paneling, raw steel and a carpet tile mural on the floor are the predominant interior features. Like an expedition that collects equipment that can handle the unknown challenge, the eclectic materiality of the movable office is selected for the ability to tackle different solutions to the design problem.

A cantilevered think module is vertically stacked in the center of the space. It reveals a newly articulated view of the West Hills through clerestory windows in the building. Similar to the NORTH creative process that reveals something about a client’s brand that may have always been there but not yet communicated, this view required elevation but was always there. Floral drapery and camouflage Fatboy beanbags allow for reflecting ‘around a campfire’.

A series of interspersed glass and metal panels define the edit module, two soundproof rooms without doors. Smoke plush carpeting and mirror-like edit stations make editing a destination without wasting carbon. It’s dually private and transparent.

Taking a universal icon for quick creative thought and communication, the media module is Post-it Note yellow. A commercial grade kitchen and adjacent dining area with picnic tables, wall mural, and topographic carpet tiles redefines out-of-doors inside. A visitor module of smoke walls and ice-white lighting is curated with print, sound, and new media inspirations, fostering an ever-changing creative forum and connection with the local community.

Cite: "NORTH / Skylab Architecture" 28 Jan 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Nov 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=12719>