Post-Covid Office


A FOCUS ON THE INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE OF THE WORKPLACE



Client : Global Consulting Firm
Location : Tokyo, Japan
Program : Office
Area : 3000 sqm

Scope : Design

Year : 2020~2021
Status : Completed
 Photos : Vincent Hecht
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Over the last few years the advancement of Information Technology (IT) in the workplace has been a major driver in changing the direction of the office design. In the old office both the office tools, the equipment  needed to perform office jobs and the actual work space in which work took place were analogue, everything needed to work was physically there, every person had their own desk and paper and other equipment needed to do their task. IT has shifted many of the office tasks to a digital environment. This in turn has led to Activity Based Working or as we have labelled it WorkVitamins. This shift allowed companies to free their employees and let them work anywhere within the office not only at their desk.

The question that today is on everyone’s mind is: What is the role of the office now that employees already spend the majority of their work in a digital work environment? When work can be done from home or any other place but the office, do we still need an office?

We continued to design corporate workplaces during the initial onset of Covid, but for most of those projects the management premise was that a vaccine would return business soon back to a Pre-Covid workplace. For those offices the design included temporary solutions such as physical distancing and other protocols that could be changed once the world would return to normal.
This particular project also started pre-Covid and together with the client we developed an alternative, holistic approach towards the office. This resulted in a space that is more than just a furniture solution but an integrated conceptual space in which IT, acoustics and lighting design are all integrated to form a space in which users can have a choice of how they want to work. The focus of this project is on the focus of the individual experience of space.


This project comes to two conclusions:

  1. The Covid curfew restrictions has shown that most office work is already performed mainly in a digital environment (computer, phone etc…) and is not limited to a specific physical location, work can be done anywhere.

  2. The role of the office is in its communal, social function; a space to bring people together, to express  what a company stands for. Thus the importance of design as an expression of an authentic message of how and where a company wants to let their employees work.




Mark

WoC-TOKYO


HEAD OFFICE + BREAKOUT MULTIPURPOSE SPACE



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Client : Confidential
Location : Tokyo
Program : Office, Meeting Rooms, Breakout Space, Private Offices
Area : 765 m2

Year : 2020
Status : Completed
Photos : Vincent Hecht

This is a corporate interior project in a space that is not a typical office space. In a former gym the owner had inserted a second floor which was subdivided into long and narrow spaces. As the client took the whole floor we removed all these dividing walls and created one large connected, open space.

The design intend was to create a space that went beyond the purely functional requirements. Instead we focussed on the creation of a narrative in which the users of the space, the employees as well as visitors, would get a unique experience of this space. Removing the dividing walls allowed daylight to flow more uniform through the space. The larger space also provided for a wider variety of viewpoints. To keep this feeling of openness we went for a very clean look with light wood accents. We also want to bring in tactile materials to give us a textural, distinctive surface. Most of the walls are finished in a hardwearing, light beige stucco with either a smooth or a more rough finish.

We placed wood cement boards diagonal on walls as a dynamic, decorative element which also ensured a comfortable level of acoustics throughout the space. In the work area we installed a concrete colour vinyl tile on the floor, for the circulation and some enclosed rooms we used a light washed oak, enclosed rooms are carpeted.

At the entrance steps down lead to two glazed client meeting rooms, from there visitors turn right towards a larger meeting room that can accommodate up to twelve people. The glass wall of this meeting room can be opened up and the space in front can be used for presentations, seminars or town hall meetings. In the same space around the corner, up three steps, we placed a pantry kitchen under a louvered ceiling. Across this pantry is a nook where the walls, ceiling and floor are all in finished in a dark blue colour. Black and dark blue furniture is placed on a thick blue carpet, creating a soft and comfortable atmosphere where staff can have a coffee, have a quiet chat or do some work.

You can watch a One Minute Architecture video with a more detailed description of the project here.



Mark

GUANGMING


COMMUNITY CENTER + CAFETERIA + CONFERENCE + OFFICE + DINING



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Client : Confidential Chinese Developer
Location : Guangming, China
Program : Community Center, Cafeteria, Conference, Offices, Dining
Built Area : 2165 sqm
Site Area : 3900 sqm

Year : 2018
Status : On-going


Despite being situated about 26km from Shenzhen, Guangming has a surprisingly agrarian village-like character. This project is intended to kick-start the creation of a park designated for the education of both agriculture and ecology. The first building to be constructed within this park will be a 2165m2 multifunctional visitor’s centre. The double-height structure contains a multi-use space, a couple of small enclosed rooms on the ground floor and a cafeteria on the second floor.

The main building is conceived as a 10 meter-tall polycarbonate box. The materiality of the polycarbonate panels allows for fast construction but also refers to the agricultural character of the greenhouses found throughout the park. The circulation is conceived as a covered corridor running parallel in front, along the whole of the structure. From this corridor one enters the main building, but walking further along there are a cluster of dining rooms placed over two floors. The corridor also takes the visitors to the  decks in front of the building leading to a pond and the further onto other areas of the park.




Mark

ORANDA-JIMA HOUSE


AFTER-SCHOOL HOUSE + COMMUNITY CENTER



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Client : Oranda-Jima Foundation
Location : Yamada-machi, Japan

Program : After-School House, Community Center

Plot Area : 713 sqm

Built Area : 210 sqm

Year : 2011-14
Status : Completed
Photography : Josh Lieberman
Winner of “Silver A’Design Award 2015” in the category of Architecture, Building, and Structure Design



Yamada-machi is a town located on the central coastline of  Iwate prefecture in the north of Japan.
After a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the town on 11 March 2011, a foundation called Orandajima Foundation was established which offered to design and build a facility where children would have a place to play, heal and come together. Following extensive consultations with the local authorities, it was proposed in February 2012 to establish an after-school house and community centre.
The Foundation is named after the island where in 1643 a Dutch ship, called The ‘Breskens’ landed in the Bay of Yamada. This island was called 'Oranda-jima ('Holland Island')  350 years after the  ‘Breskens’ stranded there.
The program asked for a flexible building of approximately 200 square meters to accommodate about 60 children.

Located on a hill, safe from future tsunami’s, the wooden building stands as a simple, silent structure. We have designed building from the inside out aiming for an immersive experience by the young users.  Through the use of contrast in scale, a variety  in textural materials and other subtle detailing we believe that there is a certain depth in the space  that goes beyond the visual. Great care has been given in the way natural light enters the interior spaces.  On the west side of the house we have placed another polycarbonate window. Behind this window are trees and the setting sun will cast play-full shadows of these trees on this translucent panel, not unlike a Japanese rice paper screen.
Through this window, during certain periods of the year, the light of dusk will bathe the main room in hazy orange for a short period of time. The hope is that this harnessing of light will stir a contextual sensitivity within the users.


ICELAND  CAVE  TOWER


VISITORS' CENTER + CAFETERIA + BRIDGE + OBSERVATION DECKS



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Location : Myvatn, Iceland
Program : Visitors' Center + Cafeteria + Bridge + Observation Decks
Area : 800m2

Scope : Architecture Design, Landscape Design, Structure Design

Year : 2020
Status : Concept Design
Consultant : BSI


1. Cave and Tower
Our proposal starts with a tower, but we place it flat on the ground, in order for it to bridge the European and American tectonic plates, but also giving access along a ramp into the submerged cave below.

2.Plato’s cave
Plato argued that humanity views reality like prisoners inside a cave that have been chained to face a wall, these prisoners believe that the shadows they see on the wall of this cave, shadows of people passing behind them, represent reality. However, Plato’s allegory suggests that the play of shadows shows us only an outline of what reality really is. Will the tower help us in leaving behind the cave and get us a better understanding of the reality of the context our proposal is set in?

3. Arrival
The visitor driving along the road will see a series of changing vantage points of our structure. Is it building or just a collection of rocks held together with metal mesh? At one point the volume look very geometric, while on the other end it looks like the rocks have been punctuated by the Iceland air revealing another structure made of rocks inside.

From a distance one might think that there is some symbolism at play; the triangular shape as a diagrammatic representation of the American and European plates hitting into each other. Our engineers calculated that this form is a practical way to distribute the weight of the semi-open enclosure of the space.

4. A series of openings
Visitors leave their vehicles behind a low gabion wall and walk on a raised platform towards the building. Walking closer one notices that the stacked rocks form a large stone gabion wall which is slightly turned to create an opening. It feels almost like entering a labyrinth. Georges Bataille has pointed out that a labyrinth is an ambiguous spatial structure that consists of a series of openings that either encloses or opens space. This is basically what our structure does: enclosing and opening spaces.

The visitor turns and enters a six meter high entrance hall. It has a cave-like feeling, it is dark inside. This dark space is made of rocks. Rocks found in the vicinity. The darkness of the space stops the visitors, but also guides them, prepares them for what is to come.


5. Ramps and rocks
As the visitor turns the corner more encaged rocks form walls and a cantilevered platform can be seen above. From here a series of triangular openings reveal themselves. Looking down onto the floor, part of the rocky landscape that they have seen outside are on the floor of the building.

Then there are the ramps, made of steel and wood; one going down another going up. The ramp going down leads into the underground cave. Like the ramp outside, this ramp is on stilts, these stilts touch the landscape lightly. While the visitor walks towards the partly submerged cave they can see the rock formations below their feet, illuminated through the wood slats.

Returning back up another ramp twists around a volume that holds the more mundane programmatic needs such as the toilets, a small kitchen, storage spaces and the energy room. Walking further up after a series of ramps, the ramp widens and becomes a viewing platform facing towards Hverfjall volcano. The last ramp cantilevers into a raised view of 12 meters from which the American plate can be seen. Below there is another a ramp that bridges the two tectonic plates providing a view of the fissure below.

6. The bridge
Once across to the American plate a series of ramps provide walks along the site. We suggest to extend these ramped walkways into existing paths to allow visitors to explore the larger context of the site. These extended walkways can be constructed in a similar way as simple raised wooden decks, placed on a steel frame which are piled on steel columns. We believe raising the walkways will keep visitors on these paths to protect the fragile flora of the site.

7. Magnificent play of volumes under light
We suggest that our structure to be a variant of that subtle and magnificent play of volumes under light. Standing inside visitors will observe the Nordic light filtered through the stacked rocks, forming on clear days changing projections of shadows. Outside the metal enclosure will glisten under different seasonal conditions. When the light outside fades, the abstracted shape of the structure will look like a rock as seen in the paintings of Juliana Sveinsdottir.



Mark