Diagonal 80
Exhibition Space and Factory, San Agustín del Guadalix, Madrid
(2006-09)

A building is normally understood as a final product in which the users are merely the consumers of that space. Rarely is a building a mechanism that is constantly updated, with every step of its transformation becoming a material snapshot of an informational and geometric system. Diagonal 80 is a company that converts digital files into physical objects of all sizes and materials. It is a paradigm of the new firms in the digital world: medium-sized, continually updating its technology, offering flexible working and 24-hour service. To bring together these elements outside the city, the new building is a hybrid of an industrial pavilion and tertiary space. In spite of ithe industrial dimensions and finishes, the interior lighting and environmental conditions are fully controlled to preserve the company’s sensitive equipment.
Four main groups of components make up the spatial system: a bearing system linked to its tension and geometry; an exhibition system for company products (printing on canvas, vinyl and stiff backing materials); interior climate-control machinery and ducts; and the outer skin – a conventional metal enclosure system without a substructure. A common geometric system governs this suite of components and the overall spatial configuration.
The work started with the idea of building a geometric, spatial infrastructure that would allow the firm to reconfigure its building using its own printing system to produce any sort of material finish. The basic principle was to use the three-dimensional nature of the structure to make its geometry identify with the space and allow it to become a backing for any kind of finish. For this purpose, we chose pre-stressed beams with tendons set in a double-Y configuration, connected by pillars which replicate the plan organisation in elevation. In the industrial factory for Diagonal 80, complex knots – double Y-shaped pieces – play a fundamental role in the three-dimensional structure, coordinating the geometry and dimensions of the bars and joining them selectively from the mechanical point of view. To resolve the joins of different tubes of different lengths set at different angles, the knots are produced by digital manufacturing, directly from 3D files. The building thus becomes a kind of hybrid between an industrially built artefact and a digital construct generated directly from a digital file.
Their factory building can therefore be seen as a three-dimensional fabject which in turn provides support for printed fabtecs and mechanical parts, in a constant updating process governed by the geometry of the bearing structure.