Inspirua (streets of ideas) was a finalist in the 2015 AWA Oporto Coworking Space Competition.
The process of revitalizing a city involves innovation and collaboration between all of its diverse sectors. In the search for a solution for a co-working space as part of a new identity for Oporto, we posed the question: where do ideas come from? We believe new ideas are generated through moments of serendipity, of chance encounters between people of different minds. They come to us in various ways, sometimes sparked by a change or scenery or during an unexpected conversation. Therefore, to create the right conditions for innovation means to create the right environment for meetings between the building's and the city's diverse inhabitants.
The building sits on a steep hill overlooking a cliff next to the iconic Louis I bridge, with a curving road cutting through it. Its form is derived directly from the curved and stepped nature of its location, composed of curved strips of programming blocks, staggered like a giant staircase.
The design draws inspiration from the vibrant and lively streets and squares of Portugal, which are filled with seating and casual gathering spaces, and inhabited by spillage from nearby cafes and restaurants. Offices spill out onto rooftop “streets”, putting any work happening in the building out on display to passers-by. The network of exterior “streets” winds through the workspaces, giving residents a choice of working indoors, outdoors, or in arcade spaces in between. Just as people bump into each other on the street, the architecture encourages points of convergence between residents and visitors to the building’s public facilities to allow for “eureka” moments to frequently occur, as well as to promote a sense of community.
Interspersed through the building are warrens of stairs, punctuating and connecting the different levels of “street” blocks. Like Portuguese backstreet alleyways, these offer more intimate areas of collision, and seating space where spontaneous chats and collusion of ideas can occur.
The co-working offices / "streets" zig-zag up the hill, and are anchored at the ends by public programming. The "streets" lead upward to a bold structure overlooking the cliff. This section of the building is designated to be a flexible space for events, exhibitions, and further development. It alludes to the bridge beyond, symbolizing a link between Oporto's past and future.