This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire interior design series features an impressive new office space for a large Chinese gaming company based in Shanghai. For BNJN Design, designing an office is about creating a space that is interesting but not theatrical, efficient but not dreary. Concerns about spatial identity, the mental wellbeing of employees, and social interaction were all important areas to address in the design. No longer simply a workspace, the office features an art gallery, studio and music room which serve as spaces to socialise, relax and stimulate the mind. Other social spaces are scattered throughout the building to propagate interaction, allowing for a more pleasant working environment.
Sector: Office Design
Company: BNJN Design
Project: Giant Interactive Group Office
Location: Shanghai, China
What was the client’s brief?
The Giant Interactive Group is a Chinese gaming company for massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. The company is located within the Shanghai SongJiang Giant Campus and is otherwise known as the “Mini Silicon Valley.” Thus, when BNJN was approached to design an office to house the company, they envisioned the corporate space to be one filled with marvel and wonder and one that corresponds to the present gaming culture of the world.
What inspired the interior design of the project?
For a working environment, light is of uttermost importance. This project, which encompasses everything from the ground floor to the skylight on the fourth floor, transforms the atrium into a lens that lights up the entire office space and creates a space of serenity. This “gray space” blurs the boundary between inner space and outer space, allowing the two to merge into a single unit of reality.
The space is carefully divided into compartments that ripple rhythmically throughout the building. Connecting the four levels of the building is a floating conference room. This gravity-defying room is analogous to a castle in the clouds. The pockets of positive and negative space surrounding this hanging castle become individual islands. Each pocket frames a different area: the open patios, the intersecting flight of stairs, and the singular tree that penetrates through the space and juts out on the top floor similar to a landmark. By simply looking at the tree, anyone in the building can orientate themselves accordingly. Its roots spread across the second floor, the stem penetrates the third floor, and the treetop blooms on the top floor. Every individual pixel of a virtual tree is brought to life here in the form of real foliage and bark that fill the space with creativity and novelty. Serving as a symbol for life and wisdom, the tree is also where one can look to for contemplation and meditation.
What was the toughest hurdle your team overcame during the project?
Unimpeded by the modest budget allotted for this project, the designers used this chance to introduce the theme of nature into this space by using environmentally friendly materials to create an unpretentious space free from extravagance. The design is centred around the use of ivory lacquer panels, lush green carpets, and lightly-coloured wood patterns. While the certain details vary more in colour, the interior stays clean, bright, and transparent.
A common concern in office spaces such as this is the wellbeing of the employees. The average person working at Giant is a computer geek under thirty-five. Their day to day activity is unchanging: they sit in front of computer screens typing out sequences of coding all day. Now, right beyond their screens lies a vast stretch of space that frees their mind from the numerical constraints in front of them.
The office is no longer simply a workspace. On the ground floor by the entrance is a media wall spanning 10 meters in length, composed of photographs of the individuals who make up Giant. Each figure towering and unwavering, a reminder of the company’s growth. Behind the wall is an art gallery where people can socialise, appreciate art, and relax. Furthermore, there is a music room as well as an art studio that serve as spaces to stimulate the mind during the average working day. Other pockets of social spaces are also scattered throughout the building to propagate the interaction between people to allow for a more pleasant working environment.
When designing an office space today, efficiency and organisation are simply the most basic principles to keep in mind. From a psychological point of view, designing an office is about creating a space that is interesting but not theatrical, efficient but not dreary. Concerns about spatial identity, the mental wellbeing of employees, and social interaction all become issues that must be addressed, and they most certainly are in Giant’s new office. This is the new standard.
What was your team’s highlight of the project?
Upon first entering the office building, a stream of light trails behind in the form of a ten-meter-long ribbon of light embedded in the ceiling, leading to an open atrium that has been carved into the middle of the four-story building and finally culminating into a skylight on top. This atrium acts as a focal point in a building that consists of individual floor areas that measure more than 4,000 square meters each. As the heart of the building, the atrium naturally becomes the centre of attention where all points of view in the building converge.
Why did you enter the SBID International Design Awards?
The SBID Awards are recognised by architects and clients alike, and winning an award would mean our work gains international exposure to help us make global connections.
Questions answered by Ben Goh, Chief Designer of BNJN Design
If you missed last week’s Project of the Week featuring a glamorous and modern California-esque show home in Poole with colour and character, click here to see more.
We hope you feel inspired by this week’s office design! Let us know what inspired you #SBIDinspire
BNJN Design | SBID International Design Awards
This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire interior design series features the ultimate office design created by the workplace design and build specialists, Interaction for financial comparison company money.co.uk, transforming their unique and characterful office in The Castle, Cirencester, UK. A space where you can sneak through a secret door in a bookcase, put your feet up in a ski chalet, traipse through an ice cave, battle against suits of armour and experience a cinema in a galaxy far far away…
The work on the 10,000 sq ft project began in March 2016. There were 38 rooms to design in The Castle and for 6 of these, Interaction collaborated with designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, who provided initial concept sketches and a choice of finishes. An important part of creating the ultimate office meant focusing on the functionality of the workplace, designing a space that would allow the team to work effectively. Interaction explored the needs of the individuals and created a multitude of flexible work settings to enable people to work the way they want. This included creating spaces such as the ice cave, ski lodge, and ‘hightech’ room which can all be used to have informal meetings, socialise, or simply relax. This project is a perfect example of how by placing employee wellbeing at the centre of the brief and design you can use your workplace as a tool to incite a positive culture and enhance productivity, creativity and collaboration. The Castle is finally fit for the kings and queens of the tech world.
Project: money.co.uk – The Castle
Project Location:Cirencester, United Kingdom
Ranked as the UK’s 2nd fastest growing business in 2015 by The Sunday Times, financial comparison website money.co.uk needed their workplace to support this recent exponential growth. The Grade II listed Victorian ‘castle’ that money.co.uk occupied, having had no major alterations in years, did not illustrate their current standing and vision for the future.
The team therefore needed a workplace that reflected their success, but also one that continued to attract and retain talent in their competitive industry. Representing their success through their workplace was important, but at the heart of the decision for the refurbishment was rewarding staff with the best place to work.
What inspired the design of the project?
Money.co.uk’s people, in combination with Grade II listed building itself, lay at the heart of the project’s design. Not only did we want to create an environment where the team could flourish, fulfil their potential and feel happy, but we wanted to juxtapose the traditional architecture of The Castle with a contemporary finish. The unique building provides a characterful and quirky setting for an office, and the interior needed to reflect the eccentricity of the exterior.
We had to be conscious and considerate to nurture the listed building. We were excited to work with (and accentuate) several original features of the building. This included the windows, archways and some original doors – all of which have become real statement features that hark back to the rich history of The Castle.
The building continuously revealed new and hidden secrets that kept us on our feet and provided us with unique design challenges. The damp was severe – by the time we were finished we had practically re-built The Castle.
Other than successfully bringing past and present together by breathing new life into the space, the moment we held up the “snag free” board was incredible for everyone involved. As a company, we always aim to deliver our fit-out works with absolutely no snags (or defects). To achieve this on such a complex refurbishment project was a great feeling!
We knew that the SBID is highly regarded internationally and that the awards promote design excellence. We entered because we thought The Castle raised the bar in terms of office design – it has been featured in numerous news articles worldwide and has become known as one of the “world’s coolest offices”.
As well as wanting to give the project team the recognition for all of the hard work that went into the 9-month project, we were also keen to prove that workplaces can be tools for change. Rather than hindering a business, they can inspire people, promote collaboration, and increase overall productivity and output – just as The Castle has done for money.co.uk.
Questions answered by Egle Kairele, Creative Lead at Interaction
If you missed last week’s Project of the Week featuring a spectacular residence set across two buildings and garden apartment in London, click here to see more.
We hope you feel inspired! Let us know what inspired you #SBIDinspire
Interaction | SBID International Design Awards 2018
Design factors such as colour, lighting, acoustics, air quality, furnishings and architectural design can have an impact on the health, performance and engagement to those occupying the space. “Designers are masters of subliminal communication” says Michaela Jones, Director of Chroma Flooring . . . .
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