In 2005, Jofebar acquired a warehouse adjacent to its facilities, to build a showroom and expand its offices. The very precarious warehouse, in need of refurbishment to adapt it to new functions, led the Board of Directors to challenge its architect colleagues with a “contest of ideas”. Dulcineia Neves dos Santos, at the time a trainee architect (now working at Herzog & de Meuron) won with a proposal developed literally overnight on the basis of an improvised, homemade model.
As it was commented in the company by then: “The girl won the competition with a model made from a shoebox”. The design proposed the construction of a mezzanine in an open U shape for the main elevation, an inner courtyard and a curved wall that hid the oblique geometry of the rear limit of the built plot. The works started in less than a week, without giving the project time to bed in to gain shape and detail. The urgency of the work meant that most decisions were taken on site in real time, in close cooperation with the different participants.
The very pragmatic decision was taken from the start that the works would be something of a laboratory experimentation, where the different products developed in Jofebar would be shown but also tested. This provided a vitality that is reflected today in a space in permanent transformation, full of ephemeral, removable elements, effective in adapting to the different activities organised or hosted by Jofebar: exhibitions, workshops, presentations and conferences.
Despite the ever-changing space, the essence of the project remains mirrored in its key elements. The mezzanine continues to provide order to the space despite it not being a totally free element (its lower space was partially closed to set up small rooms). The central courtyard, inside, continues to stand out not only for the light it provides (due to the generous glazed surface of the PanoramAH! windows), but also for its shape – an archetype of the gabled house, here roofless, bringing the sun and rain into the now domesticated showroom. Unfortunately, the rear curved wall was never built, but the design of the interior furnishings has eventually contributed to the cohesion and comfort of the workspace.
The showroom area today is part of the image of a company that is proud to show what it does but also how it does it. Visitors see a space in which the products are displayed in a dynamic and experimental form. Despite the urgency, the symbolic “absence” of a design, Dulcineia Santos ended up cunningly and skillfully building an “experimental house”. And the story goes on…
Location Perafita, Matosinhos, Portugal
Authors Dulcineia Neves dos Santos