02-08-2021

Lagranja Design designs XAPO, a bank for cryptocurrencies

Lagranja Design,

Lagranja Design,

Gibilterra,

Banks,

Refurbishment, Interior Design,

Multidisciplinary design studio Lagranja Design has created something truly special: the physical offices of a bank exclusively for cryptocurrencies. The challenge was to give material form to something intangible in a high-impact physical space: an old army barracks in the historic centre of Gibraltar.



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Lagranja Design designs XAPO, a bank for cryptocurrencies
There has been a lot of talk of cryptocurrencies lately, and the only thing many of us know about them is that they are virtual and intangible, based purely on the cybersphere. But in actual fact even a bank specialising in this type of currency requires a physical office, somewhere for its employees to work and a place to express its identity and obtain greater visibility. Because, let’s admit it: many of us hesitate to take a bank seriously if we can’t see it in physical form!
Well aware of this, Wences Casares, CEO of XAPO, commissioned Lagranja to build the bank’s headquarters in an emblematic location in an old army barracks in the historic centre of Gibraltar, in the shadow of its famous rock. This is not only XAPO’s first physical location but the first conversion of a historic building for Lagranja, a Singapore-based studio that has been in operation for 18 years.
The back of the historic building in which the offices are located is next to the ruins of the city’s original walls and defensive towers, while the front faces Grand Casemates Square: a lively public square packed with outdoor bars and restaurants. The barracks (or 'casemates') were built by the British army in 1817, and are among the best-preserved military buildings in this formerly fortified city. The structures had however been abandoned, and so the project focused not only on the interiors but on the creation of new public spaces, reactivating the public area for art and cultural events. 
The key intention behind Lagranja’s project is in any case giving XAPO a physical location and headquarters. The company occupies two arch-shaped bays in the barracks complex totalling 800 square metres. The old complex was built out of local limestone, with ceilings still supported by the carefully restored original beams, giving the space the atmosphere of an old bank vault. On the basis of creative contamination of archaeology and modern design, Lagranja has given the spaces a contemporary office layout, with furnishings and decorations designed using digital processes and ecological materials such as recycled plastic: a metaphor for our time of rapid technological change, even in banks and currencies!
The architects explain that they were guided by the principles of harmony, functionality, and respect for the age of the construction. They also added an element of surprise: “Clients enter XAPO from the main square to the bay, now a reception area. Shallow pools flank either side, adding a counterbalance to the structure’s lack of height and lending luminosity to a dark space. At night, laser beams crisscross the pools and reception area – an added bonus for the public, who can view the installation from the square outside.”
The outdoor spaces are integrated into this part of the barracks, which is now available for corporate events and as a lounge area for employees.
In short, Lagranja’s project for XAPO skilfully combines past with future, historic architecture with cryptocurrencies, creating a setting of great visual and emotional impact with a reduced ecological footprint.
Lagranja recently won the Architizer A+Award in the Office Interiors (<25,000 sq ft.) category
 
Christiane Bürklein

Project: Lagranja Design

Location: Gibraltar, UK
Year: 2020
Images: Lagranja Design

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