Text description provided by the architects. For approximately 300 years cities have been growing, assimilating territory previously reserved for other functions like industry, warehousing/logistics, agriculture, etc. As this process develops, moving around these areas becomes more and more difficult: traffic becomes chaotic; polluting activities are forbidden close to residential and service areas; the price of land goes up. Existing functions tend to move farther away from the city centre, leaving behind huge industrial complexes that can be demolished or adapted. The second option is preferable not only regarding economic and environmental sustainability but also the potential aesthetic and historic value of these places.
Lionesa Business Center reflects this issue quite well. Previously a weaving factory, it was closed around 1990s and later transformed into a business center. Former warehouse and production spaces are being divided for office and commercial use creating a very characteristic environment.
The old factory is located just outside the city of Porto along 2 of the main transport arteries that connect to the North and interlard. The existing space was chosen specially by the company for its open space, high ceiling, stone walls, solid wood pavement and natural lightning, features that were imperative to maintain.
The space was divided between ground floor: comprising main entrance and employees entrance, major open work space, department meeting, printing and server rooms, lockers and bathrooms served by a long corridor that connects all the different departments and spaces and crosses the entire space; and a 1s floor (build by a steel frame structure) for all the managers offices, main meeting room, showroom and café/lounge space, connected also by distribution corridor overlooking the working space on ground floor: this way visitors, that will mainly use the 1st floor, can have a feeling of the companies work environment without disturbing it.
By leaving the working space with double height it is ensured that the space were the most amount of people work is full of natural light. The 1st floor is accessed by both ends to ensure clarity of use: the back access is mostly for employees to access the café/lounge, while the front access is directed mainly for visitors, for the different managing offices and main meeting room.
The end result is a functional and organized working space full of light with a constant subtle reminder of the buildings history.