by Jerry ElengicalJul 23, 2021
Danish architectural firm, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), together with Portugese real estate developer Castro Group, is working on the development of 178,000 sqm community village for Farfetch – a British-Portuguese online luxury fashion retail platform. Designed as a 'purpose-built urban fashion village' and the new headquarters of Farfetch, nestled on the slopes of the Leça River in Porto, Portugal, the project named Fuse Valley aims to bring together the creative community comprising creators, curators, and consumers, in a holistic, art-led space.
Part of a larger development featuring interactive spaces for tech companies and startups, also architecturally spearheaded by the Copenhagen-based architects, Fuse Valley presents 12 interconnected structures (within the overall 24 building complex) resting on a series of urban terraces. The design, as per BIG, seeks to amplify the exchange of ideas and to create new opportunities for Farfetch’s employees, its visitors and locals.
“Rather than a corporate office complex, Farfetch’s future home in Fuse Valley will be a lively urban ensemble bringing every curator, creator, customer and collaborator, together in the most innovative new neighborhood of the city. The urban fabric will allow Fuse Valley to grow and expand organically, like a natural village,” says Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director, BIG.
Landscaped plazas, parks, and courtyards surround the buildings; these are designed to create a seamless transition of the programmes, inside to the outdoors. The urban terraces connect the main road to the east, with the river to its west. “Along the central arrival axis, an urban alley opens all the way from the street to the river, featuring all the major public programs and amenities along the riverfront of Farfetch: lobbies, an academy, an auditorium, canteen, and wellness facilities,” says BIG in a press statement.
The roofs of the new buildings rise and fall to create peaks and valleys, with slopes and terraces providing employees with generous spaces to enjoy breaks and host gatherings – surrounded by views of the river. Natural paths extend from the landscape to the roofscape, creating flexible wayfinding for people to move around the complex – both inside and out, and above, below, and within the building.
“Fuse Valley is the perfect interpretation of our golden rule, applied to all our projects: location, innovation, sustainability, and technology. What we are going to do in Matosinhos is something unique and that puts this space on the international map of what is best done both in terms of sustainability and in terms of innovation. With this project, we intend to develop a smart city, or in this case, a smart valley,” comments Paulo Castro, CEO of Castro Group. “This project,” adds Farfetch CEO, José Neves, “will be a revolution on the current concepts of workspaces, marked by its futuristic nature, by the orientation towards sustainability and well-being. It will be a space not only for Farfetch, but for the entire community.”
The public realm spills onto the ground floor where the façade recedes to give way to natural canopies that welcome visitors. The softened corners of the buildings merge to create archways and openings between the courtyards that double as canvases for different artistic expressions, fusing color and texture to the streetscape. As per BIG, each building is tailored to its specific program, with gently-altered floorplans creating an equally lively and varied interior architectural experience.
“The individual buildings that constitute the various elements of the organisation are connected to form large contiguous work environments – physically consolidated, but spatially varied to create a human-scale experience,” shares João Albuquerque, Partner in Charge, BIG.
In the interiors, the sloping roofs of the building allow the formation of atelier-like attics and open mezzanines. The design of the spaces permeates visual and physical connectivity running across all floors. People’s experiences within the indoors are stimulated by inclusion of a biophilic environment, while various pockets of naturally shaded spaces enliven the outdoors.
Fuse Valley is scheduled to break ground by early 2023, while the anticipated opening of the building will be in 2025.