VALENCIA, Spain – In an era of near-total automation that enables us to do ‘just about anything’ online, physical face-to-face interaction is losing ground. But many people still prefer to be assisted by a real person in a real office. So when a utility company asked Fran Silvestre to design a customer-service office, he came up with ‘a space of interaction’ aimed at providing flesh-and-blood visitors with a surprising experience.
Entered from a picturesque tree-lined avenue in the 19th-century urban extension of Valencia, Spain, the office occupies a long corridor-like space that spans an entire city block. The elongated interior takes a 45-degree turn midway, coinciding with the triangular building perimeter yet creating awkward geometries that, together with existing architectural columns, make for poor visibility and confusing orientation. To establish user-friendly order and clarity, Silvestre regularized angular turns by overlapping orthogonal shapes.
The imposition of coherence is not without its playfulness. When viewed from certain vantage points, the floor and ceiling pattern produces an anamorphic optical effect that’s sure to entertain perceptive customers awaiting their turn. Visiting the real world does have its rewards.