Urbo Business Center

Urbo Business Center

Nuno Ferreira Capa

The Urbo Business Centre in Porto, Portugal, was designed by architect Nuno Capa with an emphasis on creating a visual flow across the site and optimizing natural light across all floors. The building occupies a corner plot of 6000m2 and comprises eight floors; six office floors and two basement floors for parking and service providers, for a total construction area of 25600m2. The architecture is bold and avant-garde, while also functional, efficient and adaptable.

Projects goals and aims

A key principle informing the overall project was spatial efficiency as the building needed to cater to an office space brief which would allow a flexible dimensional arrangement for single occupants yet simultaneously be able to be transformed and adapted into space for manifold occupants.

Underpinning this brief was the nature of the construction design and materials to be used as the team was hoping to avoid the complication of designing and building special or custom elements, while still achieving an architecture with a one-of-a-kind visual effect. To do this, both structural and cladding elements had to be taken into account. Capa, the steel fabricator Bysteel FS and Reynaers Aluminium worked in close collaboration to produce solutions using the most recent sustainability guidelines and practices to inform the design and construction phases.

Team solutions ranging from the design of the building’s metal superstructure to its prefabricated glass façade system resulted in a BREEAM GOOD certification.

Site structure and considered building organization

The building is surrounded by sidewalks that are wider on the north and south of the building, emphasizing a double entrance in opposite facades. The two entrances meet in a 24m wide foyer that forms the core of the building. The foyer is empty, yet serves the critical function of setting the distribution of the building, housing two vertical access cores, stairs, elevators, and a large skylight bringing in the outdoors. This spatial dimension and the transparency of the foyer produce visual relationships across the various floors, workspaces, and circulation areas, reinforcing the concept of closeness and collaboration between the users and the occupants. The two access cores function as nerve centres for the building, leading to the upper floors.

The top floor contains a smaller area concealing the heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment. Integrated management systems were also incorporated into the design to optimize and reduce consumption. A LED lighting system along with energy-efficient air intake systems were installed to maximize operational efficiency across the lifespan of the building, without losing the focus on comfort.

Creating an architectural statement

The focal element of the building is a Reynaers Aluminium curtain wall structure (CW 50 curtain wall with CS59 Pa-CD doors) integrated with a mesh of vertical and horizontal elements in composite steel which serves to conceal both the interior steel structure and an integrated rainwater collection system, but more importantly to provide an elegant ‘visual skin’ for the building

Speaking to the process of the façade’s creation, architect Nuno Capa says,"Important for us was to guarantee that the connection between the two elements of the façade is effective in terms of air and water sealing, without the need to design and build special parts – that is to say without a customization process. With an ongoing follow-up, collaboration and articulated coordination of works between our team and the Reynaers Aluminium team, it was possible to settle shortcomings and set in great detail the proposed system having fulfilled the intended architectural solution."

The final effect is a striking, almost rhythmic arrangement of elements in various alignments. Creating a symbiosis between daring design and practical considerations, the Urbo Business Centre successfully shows that a building can be visually arresting as well as functional and responsive to changing occupant needs.

Fabricator: 
Architects: 
Nuno Ferreira Capa
Location: 
Porto, Portugal View on map
Photographer: 
João Morgado