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Sometimes the best design is the design that's barely there. In Madrid, architects Churtichaga + Quadra + Salcedo Arquitectos (CH+QS) took an abandoned garage in the heart of the city and transformed it into a timeshare office that resembles, well, an abandoned garage in the heart of the city.

Which makes it sound terribly uninviting and depressing — a fate worse than a cubical! But it's not. With a couple of key flourishes, the architects managed to give the Madrid Hub Offices some human scale, all while preserving the building's industrial character — and limiting its toll on the environment.

With a couple of key flourishes, the architects give the space some human scale.

One of the big moves was to create a sense of privacy in 3,340 square feet of almost totally open space. So the architects threw together a series of makeshift, semi-private nooks, including a library and an informal living room (that, in keeping with the spirit of the place, they built using wood crates). Then in the massive main hall (see above), they erected a row of completely private, glass-enclosed meeting rooms, but pushed them off to the side so as to not disturb the vaulting, garage-y feel of the space.

The other big move was to lay down wood planks in the main hall, adding a touch of warmth. We mean that literally. The planks hide a heating and cooling system that distributes heat where people actually work, near the floor. This is much more efficient than trying to heat 3,340 square feet using a standard HVAC system that blasts air through vents near the ceiling.

Other than that, CH+QS pretty much left the garage — which had been abandoned since the 1940s — as is. Pass through the rooms, and you'll notice scores of cracks and scratches and paint peeling off the walls. Some architects might call those blemishes. These guys would call them decoration.