Lagranja designs the physical headquarters of digital bank Xapo

Lagranja Design,

Gibilterra, UK,


Lagranja Design, an international studio based in Barcelona, has completed work in its first historical restoration project, the physical headquarters of digital bank Xapo. Xapo works with cryptocurrencies out of its offices in the centre of the British territory of Gibraltar, in an abandoned former military complex made of stone referred to as "casemates".

Lagranja designs the physical headquarters of digital bank Xapo

Xapo is a digital finance company supplying online banking services based on cryptocurrencies. The company’s CEO, Wences Casares, appointed Lagranja Design, an international studio founded in Barcelona in 2002, to create its head offices: a project representing not only Xapo’s first physical headquarters but Lagranja’s first conversion of a historic building.
Xapo’s physical offices are located in the heart of the British territory of Gibraltar, in an old army barracks in the shadow of the famous rock dominating the promontory. The rear of the structure is adjacent to the ruins of the original walls and defensive towers of the fortified city, while the front of the building and its main entrance are located on Grand Casemates Square, with its many outdoor bars and restaurants forming the fulcrum of the town’s lively social scene. The series of barracks (or “casemates”) was built by the British army in 1817 and is one of the best-preserved of the many military constructions in the city, which was founded by the Moors in medieval times and governed by Spain for centuries before it was ceded to the British in 1713. Following extensive research, Lagranja identified the dilapidated abandoned barracks as an opportunity that was clearly being wasted. The architects report that the constructions were "unappreciated for their historical significance and crying out for a new use".
The architects have given Xapo an impressive physical dimension clearly stating its identity in the form of two bays with round arches at one end of the former military complex. In addition to the surface area allocated to the business premises (a total of about 800 square metres), a third bay was redeveloped at the company’s expense to provide a public space for artistic and cultural events.
The old structure is made particularly impressive by the vaults built of local limestone, with ceilings supported by the original wooden beams. These original beams and stone walls have been cleaned and restored to their natural state, giving the space the atmosphere of a nineteenth-century bank vault, made extremely elegant by the contrast between the dark colour of the beams and the light hue of the stone.
According to Lagranja, the right starting point for the project was "the intersection between archaeology and design". Restoring all the original parts, without being afraid to contaminate the forms and materials of the past with contemporary taste, Lagranja redesigned the space to best represent Xapo’s high-end, high-tech identity. The layout of the floor plan contains furnishings and decorations created through digital processes: "a metaphor in itself for the rapid, tech-driven transformation of banking and currency", say the architects from studio Lagranja, going on to describe the interiors: "Harmony, functionality, respect for the structure’s antiquity, and an element of surprise guided the design project".
Clients enter the Xapo offices under a barrel vault, passing the reception desk to find themselves in a truly dramatic space. Shallow pools flank both sides, adding a counterweight to the structure’s low height and brightening an otherwise dark space. At night, laser beams cross through the pools and the reception area to make the installation visible from the yard outside.
Many of the furnishings completing the vast spaces beyond the reception area have been custom 3D printed out of plastic made from maize. The delicately structured, complex, soft furnishings create a casual yet elegant sense of community, acting as a harmonious trait d'union joining various different spaces.

Francesco Cibati

Location: Grand Casemates Square, Gibraltar
Project: Lagranja Design http://www.lagranjadesign.com/
Client: Xapo Limited
End of construction: September 2020
Surface area: 800 square metres
Construction: Invision Design & Construction Ltd.
Lightning consultant: reMM
Photography: Lagranja Design
Video: Marc Castané


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