09 Nov 2020
Laura: We have to go way back to tell this story. This place, where we now are, was an abandoned warehouse. “Oitoo”, the founding partners of Armazém Cowork are a group of architects that spent part of their career outside of Portugal and decided to come back to their roots and open an architecture studio. Amidst the process of finding an office, we found this old warehouse, allegedly empty since 1974, as our neighbours recall. It seemed a great place with a great story behind because 1974 was also the year of the Portuguese “Carnation” Revolution, that freed Portugal from a long dictatorship. For us, as architects, it’s a reflection on the hidden qualities of often unused ground floor spaces and operates as a reactivation method. Being such an enormous space and without a team to fill in, the idea of the work came about.
Filipe: These kind of places are all about networking and the opportunities that come with that: the easiness of professionals to join find or create an established community of people that think alike. It helps one’s development by easily find partners, clients or even suppliers in their workplace.
Laura: Our main purpose was also that, instead of being alone in a private office, we wanted to promote and build new relationships and meet more people. As we are here with so many people now, it helps us each other a lot, especially in public relations and business opportunities.
Laura Lupini, Co-Founder Armazém Cowork
Filipe: Here, we don’t feel the pressure of brainstorming big ideas all the time, on a scheduled meeting. Things happen much more naturally. As most of us are freelancers or independent workers, we aren’t always checking the clock. Things happen in the garden, at a coffee break or during lunch. We are constantly exchanging ideas in day-to-day conversations!
Laura: We exchange a lot of ideas! Sometimes is just chitchat without expectations, other times is full-on professional advise.
Filipe: The flexibility of being in a coworking space is not having to worry about the chores a typical office requires. Financially, a coworking space pays off due to the services included such as furniture, rent, water, electricity, internet and most importantly, free coffee! But the great advantage is the networking possibilities that coworking spaces always seem to offer.
Laura: Everything is already handled for you! You only have to worry about your work. You also have a community at work. So, if you’re always in freelancing mode, it’s important to connect with others during the day. We all share the pains and joy of working by ourselves and it connects us all.
Laura: We find the place, in itself, inspiring! The loads of plants that humane space are taken care of by Filipe, which is important.
Filipe: Being the workspace so open and fresh, I think it unclutters your mind, which in return makes you more open to fresh new ideas.
Filipe Gama, Community Manager
Filipe: Being an open space, you can see and walk to wherever you want. Areas are defined by architectural solutions and interior design choices. The sliding green curtains, for example, allows for space definition and can provide an open environment or privacy, adjusted accordingly to how you’re feeling that day. And they’re great for the noise canceling.
Laura: At Armazém Cowork, we try to provide different solutions to fit everyone’s needs: from dedicated desks to more flexible ones, we just don’t do Daily Hot Desks. We have decided to build something meaningful for all members, because we want to create a more permanent community. People stay around for at least a month and most for more than a year!
Filipe: Yes! The audience at Armazém is very attentive to cultural interventions. As small independent producers, we try our best to positively impact the surrounding community, by opening the space for the locals in the neighbourhoods to immerse themselves in free activities. We consciously do that to decentralize the city cultural movement, because we are aware we are located in a sort of forgotten part of the city of Oporto, that doesn’t have that many initiatives.
Laura: I would say it’s the garden. It’s our secret spot, for all of us. It’s a place to have private corner chats, to have a break and deeply breathe, or have a meeting while sunbathing… It’s a very silent garden even though we are quite near to the city centre and busy traffic roads.
Filipe: There are several things I have particular care for. I’ve found that nursing and being immersed in plants help me and others a lot. But I have to say the most precious is the people. For example, during the recent lockdown, this place was just a place. Cosy, neat and pretty but an empty place. And we get back to the start of this conversation: only when this place is filled with people that care about each other does Armazém Cowork gains life and meaning.