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Sede Unicred

Arquitetura Nacional

Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

July 2021


EDUARDO MAURMANN (Fouding Partner (Architect)), PAULA OTTO (Fouding Partner (Architect))


ÉLEN BALVEDI MAURMANN (Fouding Partner (Architect),), YURI MORI (Partner and Lead Architect), LUCAS PESSATTO (Partner (Architect),), YURI KOKUBUN (Partner (Architect),), GUILHERME DACAS (Associate Architect


Luis Augusto Soares Schuller




The retrofit for Unicred's new headquarters, accommodating 410 work spaces, focuses on strengthening the brand identity and values. Transparency, authentic materials and the presence of vegetation were important elements in the composition of the space. The chosen location, a 2,200m² warehouse that once housed a tobacco storage, significantly influenced the design approach.

Making the most of the large, integrated space with high ceilings and distinctive features, the warehouse's pre-existing condition served as a versatile backdrop for showcasing new project elements. Prefabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) volumes were strategically introduced to house various functions such as the reception, meeting rooms, boardroom, common spaces, cafeteria, and fintech companies. These elements, thoughtfully distributed among workstations, delineate potential sectors between teams, establishing a new, human-scale living and social area.

The retrofit of the building's facade aimed to enhance interior lighting while ensuring privacy from the outside. The original facade was revitalized with a combination of glass frames and metallic sunshades. This aligns with the new moment experienced by the neighborhood: in this context, where pedestrians are increasingly circulating in the area, the ground floor was designed to become friendly for those walking along the street (with gardens, interesting materials, and openings to the street). Complementing this idea, the new sunshades on the second floor create an interesting movement for the passing cars, breaking the monotony of the ensemble of industrial buildings in the neighborhood - which often have long facades, sometimes without openings.


The new Unicred headquarters occupies a former warehouse, which in the past served as a tobacco storage facility. This type of building is quite common in the region of Navegantes, in the city of Porto Alegre, which is undergoing a transformation phase: old industrial buildings are gradually changing their use to accommodate a new era, with emerging commercial and residential uses. The industrial style continues to be a trademark of the neighborhood, as several projects choose to retrofit existing buildings instead of constructing new ones: a sustainable approach that was a premise of the design.

Unicred is a cooperative financial institution that has been in the market for over 30 years, with the main objective of providing financial solutions for more than 300 thousand people. It is highly active in Rio Grande do Sul, the state where its new headquarters is located. Some of the company's principles include "management with transparency, ethics, professionalism, and adherence to governance principles and best practices" and "Systematic action and sustainable growth with social and environmental responsibility."

The project briefing discusses the needs of the company, but it is common to contemporary offices: its facilities should serve as a representation of the company's values and increasingly be a source of pride for its employees. Additionally, the workspace should provide comfort, flexibility, and quality of life for users. This aligns well with the concepts mentioned in the organizational strategic framework of Activity Based Working, which discusses how offices are adapting to contemporary work formats.


The construction started in 2020, with the work paused for an extended period during the pandemic when the team had to work in a home office format. The way the spaces were designed - large open layouts, flexible workspaces - proved to be even more appropriate for the return to in-person work. Today, Unicred has a hybrid work system, with around 25% of employees attending the headquarters everyday.

The company previously occupied a five-story headquarters, which made interaction between people very challenging and created a significant segregation between teams. Today, in the new open-plan format, these exchanges are much more frequent.

The Navegantes neighborhood continues undergoing profound transformation: in recent years, more and more companies are seeking offices in the area. In addition to the occupation of buildings similar to Unicred's, significant initiatives have taken shape in the region, including new companies, startups, universities, and government actions.

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