La Vega Innova iHUB Offices – Madrid

Studio Banana collaborated with Telefónica Tech to design La Vega Innova iHUB, a cutting-edge agrotechnological incubator in Madrid that fosters collaboration through versatile spaces, natural elements, and sustainable materials.

La Vega Innova –a cooperation project sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Spain and financed by the European Commission– sought to boost local entrepreneurs by creating an ecosystem linking small producers, investors, public administration agents, research groups and universities to co-create and fine-tuning technologies adapted to the agri-food value chain.

To foster these synergies, Studio Banana worked alongside Telefónica Tech on the strategic design of a new incubator within the historic headquarters of the National Agrarian Training Center (CENCA), on the outskirts of Madrid.

La Vega Innova iHUB is a unique reference point for agrotechnological solutions in Spain, an innovation lab where cutting-edge ideas come to life. Incubation and acceleration programs, coworking and showroom areas and spaces for training and virtual experimentation with a smart solutions technology connected to a global network of agro labs coexist within this ecosystem fostering intersectoral collaboration and knowledge boost.

Startups, academia, public and private clusters come together simultaneously to address current needs and trends and perform on site pilot deployments, from the beginning to final testing and launch.

Through an original storytelling honouring Spain’s identity, wealth and productive variety strengthened by an open social innovation strategy, Studio Banana designed an evolutionary and versatile space, with zoning organised in neighbourhoods breaking down silos and promoting constant flow between teams, information exchange, strategic alliances and community activation.

The core of agri-food transformation
A strategic layout of uses geographically organised in three “neighbourhoods” encourages a harmonious coexistence between teams, intertwining open spaces for collaboration with private rooms guaranteeing confidentiality and concentration. Social and lounge areas alternate with multipurpose spaces with the latest technologies for users to interact and develop various activities throughout the day.

A natural extension of the landscape
The spaciousness, brightness and the use of natural materials with a green and earthy tone colorimetry evoking the richness of the earth help blur the limits between indoors and outdoors, promoting a fluid and harmonious dialogue with the surrounding environment.

Boosting different dynamics across neighbourhoods
In the surroundings, agro labs and meeting rooms for startups encourage a more intimate working dynamic for those companies in need of a confidential and safe environment to test their innovations. At the core of the space, an open area encourages knowledge interchange and the discovery of cutting-edge agricultural solutions.

The agora
The agora is the first meeting point and backbone of the neighbourhood. Its concentric design, surrounded by a dedicated area for startups and companies to exhibit their latest innovations, welcomes the community to meet, pitch, exchange ideas and celebrate innovation.

Honouring the productive wealth of the land
Visual references at certain key points of the space such as agricultural tools, the transhumance map on the peninsula and an herbarium are included as reminders of the importance of farming, the migration move throughout the seasons and the opportunities that the land offers us.

Inspired by the diversity of the Spanish territory, the chromatic library urges reflection through art and technology. This visual reminder is made up of 160 hand-sewn pieces evoking the different colours and nuances of the fields of the peninsula and the samples collected to analyse the lands’ components.

Ecodesign and certified materials
Timber and furniture from local producers incorporating quality and environmental certifications, as well as recycled materials obtained from discarded bottles add a sustainable, natural dose aligned with the key principles of the circular economy.

The auditorium: a legacy for the future
A foldable, soundproofed, timber ceiling is the focal point of the training room. Its organic shapes subtly filter the central lighting into the space to offer a warm feeling of well-being. This innovative civil engineering feat, conceived by Studio Banana in an initial stage, recovers the site’s architectural heritage while providing flexible solutions for future space utilisation.

La Vega Innova stands as a new standard of agricultural innovation. This intelligent, evolving ecosystem was conceived through sustainable management practices, both in the meticulous material selection, comprehensive traceability throughout various project phases, but also in the continuous engagement with public-private stakeholders, coupled with an effective and rapid execution.

Design: Studio Banana
Photography: Juan Baraja