Having a unicorn IT company as a client and award-winning architecture urban planning studio as a story base is something to look forward to if you’re interested in the latest architecture trends and needs. The client was Infobip, a Croatian IT and telecommunications company in need of a new location for employees in Zagreb. They commissioned 3LHD to create a new campus, a hybrid building situated at the southern edge of the city.
Infobip bought 20 thousand square metres of land in total, which hints at the possibility of another building in the future. 35 companies collaborated on the project and coordinated through VOLUM3 collaboration software, developed by 3LHD’s start up.
The project started in 2019 and was finished in 2021, as the world went through some tectonic changes in the meantime and a rise in the work-from-home.
Yet, the campus was named the Alpha Centauri. As the star itself, it tends to become ‘a gravitationally bound system’ and provide the employees and the visitors the solutions for all their needs.
The Alpha Centauri campus in numbers
The building has three main functions – the office space, the residential zone and accompanying facilities such as a restaurant, recreational areas and a conference hall.
The main idea was to build a self-sufficient ‘organism’ to compensate for the lack of urban infrastructure in the surroundings.
The building has 11.900 square metres of closed space, eight floors, and 5.100 square metres of open space and can accommodate around eight hundred employees.
Three floors are office spaces; three are dedicated for accommodation and include a recreation hall, squash court and a shared lounge area.
The most visible and representative is a ‘public’ floor with a restaurant and conference hall.
Functional and conceptual transparency
Given that Infobip is located on the outskirts of the city, transport connectivity is crucial for employees and visitors.
One of the great benefits is that the whole ground floor is a spacious garage with open and covered areas.
The three-floor base is where the work gets done. It consists of office spaces around the large atrium with a glass roof.
The interior design is simple, natural, and unobtrusive. The raw concrete structure, glass infills, and brown screens harmonise with black metal elements and greenery.
The interior is filled with warm, natural, earthy colours, huge comfy sofas, and inner walls and ceilings wrapped in different wood elements.
The light wooden floors and sitting furniture contrast with slick black walls and metal elements. The atmosphere is cosy and familiar, despite the size of the place.
The whole space is designed to get as far as possible from a rigid and uniform workplace.
Black mesh fences surround the atrium in contrast with full ones placed around the smaller staircases – straight and spiral.
One of the main ideas was to try to emulate the feeling of the academic campus and encourage experimenting and the exchange of ideas.
The walls send a brand message, ‘We are just starting’, encouraging employees to be creative and aim high.
After the work-from-home mandates, many people have been eager to come back and communicate in person, and a new campus is a perfect place to do so.
Other messages scattered around the walls show the campus like a spaceship or remind us of space travellers, astronauts and visionaries from history.
The rooms in the residential area are large apartments equipped for a nice rest and aesthetically follow the visual language of the rest of the campus.
The main idea for the residential area was to free the employees from worrying and thinking about the daily tasks like making or ordering food and other annoyances because creativity needs space.
The indoor and outdoor plants are an essential part of the campus. The green facade, which is still growing because we can’t rush nature, is designed to retain heat in winter and protect from the sun and overheating in summer.
The main block office space has glass all around, which we’re used to seeing in business buildings. But, in traditional office spaces, the result is an energetically inefficient space.
That’s why 3LHD proposed another ‘layer’ surrounding the glass facade and made construction for greenery to grow and make a live cloak. On top of that, literally and figuratively, they have made a green roof that two staircases can reach.
The part of the roof is a glass ceiling right above the main inner square, but all other elements are also filled with plants.
Another ‘green energy’ element is the use of surrounding groundwater for cooling and heating. The whole campus is built with an emphasis on sustainability and Alpha Centauri is a perfect example of building in harmony with nature.