Architects Juan Alberto Andrade and María José Váscones have completed a small workspace for Ecuadorian telecommunications company Mendotel, in the city of Guayaquil. The 80-m2 office and customer area is adjacent to Mendotel’s main hub, hosting four employees. The client had originally briefed Andrade and Váscones to create an interior with 12 work areas – instead, the architects suggested the smaller scale to give the users greater control over the space.

‘Although the company did not actively participate in the design process, its willingness to face the changes was key,’ the architects explain, ‘because it allowed them to understand and accept the development of this new office and way of working.’ The four employees who use the space have fixed roles, rendering the need for collaborative spaces and desk rotations unnecessary as they each have 20 m2 to utilize. This decision did not cancel out open communication, however: employees can casually interact with each other and clients by way of a reticulated wooden shelving system.

Notably, the limit on users and relative protection that the system provides bring much-needed added security to the workplace amid the COVID-19 crisis. ‘The design proposal focuses on generating different levels of privacy, through multiple possibilities,’ Andrade and Váscones continue. ‘The spatial solutions are based on the autonomy of the users – on the ability to decide and solve their needs according to their situation.’ The shelving was the architects’ solution to create distinction and a layer of privacy in the open area without completely shutting spaces off. Referred to as an ‘interior façade’, it incorporates glass partitions and merges with an office storage unit and desks. Furthermore, in the workspace’s meeting area, independent service tables and a training space are built with pronounced separations.

Unmistakable from the images of the office, Mendotel’s corporate colour is blue. Andrade and Váscones wove Pantone’s 19-4052 Classic Blue hue throughout the workspace, meeting area, cafeteria and washroom, using it in combination with contrasting white and grey tones to delineate functional areas.

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