Hours for Impact

Reimagining Urban Coworking Spaces

Coworking Urbano hexagonal hub

Drawing its inspiration from the shape of a pinecone, the team envisions Coworking Urbano 22@Passatges as a hexagonal hub with six offshoots.

Coworking Urbano 22@ Passatges

Number of Hours Pledged: 8,640

SDGs Supported: #3 Good Health and Well-Being, #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

Country: Spain

Summary: From her first visit to Barcelona, Bolivian architect Yngrid Echalar Gutiérrez was immediately captivated, calling it “one of the most beautiful, inspiring cities in the world.” She marveled at its beautiful and historic structures and how they reflect the many cultures and civilizations that have influenced the city over thousands of years. Now Gutiérrez is helping pioneer Barcelona’s next design transformation: reinventing public space as an incubator for innovative ventures, meetings and spontaneous collaboration.

A magnet for digital nomads, Barcelona has seen a boom in coworking spaces—but they’re typically private initiatives. Gutiérrez has a different vision. Her proposed Coworking Urbano 22@ Passatges would give free and public access to modern, nature-drenched workspaces—supporting U.N. Sustainable Development Goals #3 Good Health and Well-Being and #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities.

“The idea is to forge a connection between citizens and tourists, creating an organic network of local citizens and global citizens,” says Gutiérrez, founder of architecture studio Arquitectura Yngrid Echalar Gutiérrez.

Coworking Urbano innovation district

It seems only fitting that the new take on coworking space be proposed to reside in Poblenou, Barcelona’s innovation district.

Coworking Urbano central garden

A central garden with a network of passages would offer people a green space to come together and fuel creativity.

Coworking Urbano connect citizens tourists

Architect Yngrid Echalar Gutiérrez’s goal for the space is “to forge a connection between citizens and tourists” and align with U.N. Sustainable Development Goals #3 Good Health and Well-Being and #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities.

But Gutiérrez didn’t want to develop her idea in a vacuum. Participating in PMI’s Hours for Impact program has given Gutiérrez the opportunity to learn more about the different processes required to develop her project concept, as well as exchange experiences and approaches with other project leaders. “I discovered interesting projects and stories from other parts of the world,” she says. “All this cross-information can contribute to formulating better strategies in future projects to improve the quality of life of people worldwide.”

Inspired by the layers of a pinecone from the iconic Park Güell of Barcelona, her firm designed the modern structure as a hexagonal hub with a dozen coworking spaces positioned every 60 degrees and accessed by a ramp. Between the levels are intermediate spaces dotted with plant life. 

“The facility has a garden with trees that accent the activity and power that will be created all around it,” Gutiérrez says. “The mixed use can open the minds of people.”

The proposed site for the coworking space is an area known as the 22@ district in the city’s emerging Poblenou neighborhood, where the Barcelona City Council has set aside 200 hectares (494 acres) of industrial space to form an innovation district. Gutiérrez became a member of the PMI Barcelona, Spain Chapter and the interdisciplinary initiative New European Bauhaus to “socialize the concept and continue improving details of the proposal.”

“In a period of no more than 10 years, we can turn the coworking space into an innovative nucleus for startups, allowing the community to generate collective work and give greater support to local startups and citizens with entrepreneurship initiatives,” she says. She has been sharing her proposal to gain buy-in—and upskilling as she pitches her concept to stakeholders.

“As an architect, I was used to presenting architectural ideas or projects as technical design proposals,” she says. “I had to adjust the global concept of the project and carefully analyze the social, economic, political and environmental aspects of the context and to propose them in an integral way together with the architectural design.”

The goals of the project ultimately reflect the larger aim of Gutiérrez’s firm and Hours for Impact: to focus on projects that align with U.N. SDGs to deliver a positive social impact.   

“We take these guidelines into account anytime we propose a project, which helps us not to leave anyone behind or out of what we are proposing,” she says. “This approach guarantees a better quality of life for us and for future generations.”