- Catalin Gavrilescu - arhitect - Alexandru Malaescu - arhitect - Alina Georgescu - arhitect - Mihai Ungur - arhitect - Andreea Katalin Szabo - arhitect - Dan Damian - arhitect - Bogdan Rat - arhitect - Dan Munteanu - arhitect - s.c. H.I. STRUCT s.r. - Proiectant de structura
The Office Cluj, a “city within the city” office building ensemble recently finalized, has begun as an urban regeneration project for the brownfield plot left by the old textile industry “Someșul”, in the vicinity of Cluj-Napoca’s historic centre. As in most communist cities, this area became part of the industrial framework of Cluj-Napoca, which even now includes some leftover industries and factories. To the north of the site there still exists an old water channel, a small ramification of the Someș river while to the south there is the main boulevard and the main connection to the historic city centre, to the west.
The entire intervention was born after a series of 4 different steps:
- the first step was the “city within the city” concept, which, instead of realizing “object”-type buildings, assembled on the basis of a composition rule, or creating a hierarchy between a tall object and its surroundings, we considered the idea of an “urban tissue”, of a horizontal “solid”, with an artery and two atriums that are cut out from this large built mass.
- the second step, resulting naturally by perceiving the spirit of the place, is about “successive gates” or “lively gates/gangways” - which reinterprets the existing typology found in the nearby historic centre, where deep plots have given birth to functional gangways followed by courtyards. These gates invites passers-by inside the public courtyards and connects the main entrance with the future pedestrian walkway along the water channel.
- the third step is generated by the client’s point of view: “the corporate dream” as we named it, which is economic in nature and promotes favorable ratios for the whole rentable area. These demands are contained in the extensive design task given by the client. Alongside this step comes the “green building” concept with its sustainability, efficiency and optimization goals for the BREEAM certificate.
- Last but not least is the conceptual step of integrating the arts - “Art in the heart of Architecture” – an old theme, unfortunately most times forgotten. As architects, we like to believe that we can solve anything, but more than once have we tried working together with artists, including in this project: it will host a public sculpture by Cristi Rusu in the urban plaza towards the boulevard. Recent exhibitions, like the SIGMA retrospective, together with a selection of artists from Cluj, have highlighted the ensemble’s potential in this regard.
The whole ensemble is made of 3 parts developed in successive stages which form a small coherent city in the shape of a flat, cut out massive, penetrated by gateway streets, which reinterpret the existing typology of the historic part of the city, that of public gangways. Inside these covered streets, a number of urban scale works of art will be placed. The ground floor will offer a multitude of services, ranging from retail, coffee shops, restaurants to fitness spaces, public services and temporary exhibitions. The upper levels accommodate class A offices.
The urbanity of this office complex is generated by the interpretation of the pedestrian route on the south/north axis, from the boulevard towards the channel, sequentially emphasized by the alternating 3 gateways and 2 atrium courtyards. Likewise, another generator is the public /open nature of the ground floor all along the entire perimeter and the two passages which connect the atriums to the west side. This comb-like solution offers a generous opening to the west side - where the lower parts of the building are - thus allowing a much better lighting from that direction.
Being an office building, the mandatory conditions for natural light bring up an important topic – the outside skin, or “textile” of the building. The solution for this project was that of an “atectonic” architecture of the façade in which the skin covers up the internal structure in a stratified manner. The stratification becomes a dominant musical staff, and follows, with sincerity, the heights of each level, granting the whole ensemble a sense of scale. On the other side, the presence of the loggias, enclosed in ceramic louvers, introduces a rhythmic theme on all sides of the ensemble together with screen printed and colored glass stripes.
Instead of a brownfield, the development offers public galleries and a plaza, semi-public spaces and courtyards, commerce and public services, temporary exhibitions and retail at the ground floor, and at the upper levels, class A offices.
The Office Cluj ensemble, at an urban scale, has evolved into a small “city within the city”, penetrated by three main gateways that connect the interior courtyards and urban plaza, all of this allowing both for a generosity in favor of the public space and an emphasis on semi-public and private spaces. The presence of works of art, public galleries, exhibitions, retail spaces etc. will generate an urban attractor that, in time, will play a significant role in the process of regeneration of the entire former industrial area. At a larger scale, in which the city of Cluj offers a particular silhouette from the surrounding hills, the ensemble is perceived as a relatively flat landscape unit, with a dominant horizontal stratification.