Smoothly curved as though shaped in a wind tunnel, the new Shanghai office takes its inspiration from how air flows to make connections between people and ideas.
There are intentional similarities between what Envision does with the flow of air, and what the company’s newly redesigned office in Shanghai does with the flow of people. While Envision’s expertise in harnessing air currents to generate energy made it a leader in wind-power technologies, a similar dynamic served as the inspiration for its office environment, which was designed to encourage people to move, communicate and collaborate freely to generate innovation.
Aims & inspiration
Envision’s project brief called for a 24-hour facility that would bring the firm’s field technicians and office-based expertise under one roof. The ultimate goal of their co-location was to enhance collaboration to solve problems faster and more effectively.
Formally known as the Global Cloud Computing Control Centre and Office, the nearly 1,000 square-meter space, located on the 8th floor of Building A, SOHO Zhongshan Plaza, was conceived as a support facility for all Envision offices globally.
Inspired by the physics of air
Our Shanghai team responded to Envision by going beyond the brief to engage with the client - especially Envision’s Director of Business Development & Cloud Services Mel Badheka, who contributed significantly to the final design to unearth the finer details of the company’s working culture and operational goals and hone potential solutions.
“Our initial concept was inspired by the physics behind air movement – something that relates directly to Envision’s business,” said Douglas Newkirk, Associate Director at M Moser.
“We wanted to create a ‘connective flow’ of freedom and movement, like how different airstreams can smoothly come together into a single flow, and then disperse again.”
Making spaces flow
How the design achieved ‘connective flow’ is evident as soon as one steps into the barrier-free expanse of the finished office. Enjoying sightlines that extend right across the space in every direction, the 75 staff members are seated at curved, custom-made workstations with integrated CPUs and monitors. The glow of blue LED lighting and touches of light maple veneer add colour to the otherwise pristine white look of the furniture.
The impression of fluid, flowing space in the work area is accentuated further by the office’s unique ceiling.
“We wanted a ceiling that would create an impression of light penetrating through clouds. The design uses softly curved white drywall that envelopes an array of coves for indirect lighting,” said Newkirk.
Other areas of the ceiling were left exposed, but are adorned with linear fins to designate key points in the floor plan, and to mimic the look of air-intake grilles.
In keeping with the design’s mission of supporting communication and quick responses to global queries, the design even incorporates a lab where technicians can work on solving problems in simulated field conditions.
Here as elsewhere, the environment is saturated with integrated technologies.
Most prominent are a trio of projection screens, which are centred on the office’s back wall and remain visible to staff members regardless of where they are sitting or standing within the space. “The three screens seamlessly link together to create an interactive digital display measuring 12m wide by 2.7m tall,” said Newkirk.
Information from Envision locations around the globe is disseminated via the free-standing videoconferencing tables located close to each of the office’s five team areas. Seating up to five persons, these are primarily used for instant, real-time collaboration with field technicians.
Additional digital projection and LED screens mounted on the walls ensure each staff member continuous access to the data streaming in from Envision’s wind turbines around the world.
- Area 10,763 sq-ft
- Completion date 2013
- Location Shanghai