In 1939 Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Johnson Wax offices with a dendriform column and glass-tube ceiling, which had influenced the office design for almost a century. Modern open office is now an almost immediate accepted solution for office building typology. However, with the swift change in lifestyle & information technology, a new solution is obviously required. Office is no longer solely a place to work especially for creative industry. From this, we ask the question: what should be an office for the coming future?
“as inspiring a place to work in as any cathedral ever was to worship in” – Frank Lloyd Wright on Johnson Wax office
Nature as a place for inspiration In our design, we have sought an answer to the question by putting back people into nature, an element which has always been a source of inspiration to people. We look back to the Chinese history and traditional culture of workspace far more back than the time of Johnson Wax office completion. Chinese poetry and painting has revealed a strong idea of appreciation of nature. Chinese traditional style of workspace called “shuzhai” is always located at the best location connecting to nature and scenery. We believe by borrowing this idea of integration of nature with human would be an retrospective future for the office solution.
Work in nature With “nature” and “connection” as our point of departure, we locate our design at the west side of the site to enhance the connection to the urban park and define our own park at the east. We start our design by unfolding the ground diagonally into a series of landscape zone to maximize the connectivity between inside and outside and allow better view to the park. The unfolding action allows each floor has a higher potential to connect to the landscape zone. We also introduce a semi-outdoor courtyard space as vertical circulation, which not only allows more natural lighting into the office, but also provides efficient circulation to every program on each floor with minimized corridor space.
Exchange in nature Bear in mind that nowadays “working” can be happened in anywhere, we emphasize our design to provide space for people to exchange, not just within the office building but also with the general public. Unlike traditional office building, which can probably allow space to interact with public on the ground level only, by unfolding the landscape zone up and down, a multi-ground condition is created to allow more space for interaction. We define part of the program of the office as “inspirational program” that foster creative thinking and “exchange program” that provide exchange with general public. By putting these programs at the perimeter of the building, which is around the roof park and sunken garden, these programs would enjoy the best connection to nature and general public. The level of the roof is also carefully articulated to bring people up from the urban park level and going back to the sunken garden. Moreover, the open office is arranged in zone concept, which allows possible separation of smaller teams but still maintains the openness of space.
Live in nature Livable office is also one of the themes we would like to foster in our design. We have introduced a series of wellness concept and environmental envelope design. Our undulating landscape zone is not merely just a roof garden but also facility that enhance the living quality for the office people. Different kind of activities are allowed at the landscape such as urban farming, outdoor sports and picnic zone. Unlike a typical completely mechanical controlled internal environment, full height casement window and louvers-cable green wall system are introduced to allow natural ventilation and blocking out undesired sunlight. We would like to create a comfortable home-like environment for people to create.
Our design is blurred in boundary, which is dramatically different from typical office building design. By blurring the boundary between people and nature, inside and outside, we wish to provide the best creative environment for the North Design Union to accommodate the challenge in the future.