The project at a glance:
- First WELL v1-certified project in Asia-Pacific
- Project brief prioritised ‘wellness’ and productivity of staff
- Design supports staff team-building/socialising, offers high air quality, promotes fitness
- Open-plan architecture for enhanced communication, natural lighting
- Strategically placed operable walls enable some spaces to be expanded, accommodate multiple uses
- Carefully chosen material palette, energy efficiency for high level of sustainability
- 2016 winner of AIA Hong Kong Merit Award for Interior Architecture
The project brief evolves
Among GTB’s most prominent objectives was a genuine concern for the wellbeing of its employees. With the decision to relocate its Shanghai office away from the city’s centre, the global marketing, public relations, advertising and communications firm was given a ‘clean slate’ to optimise its needs and brand values.
The new space progressively evolved into a workplace that supports a healthy lifestyle and work-life balance. These attributes were very much in sync with the new WELL design certification system. Compliance with WELL standards and earning the first WELL v1 certificate in Asia-Pacific soon became central elements of the project brief.
A touch of nature flows through
Designed and constructed by M Moser, the finished office featured obvious manifestations of the wellness approach, including the lush green wall in the staff bistro. A generously-sized space, the bistro-cum-lounge can be opened to flow directly into an adjoining ‘flex room’, creating a larger venue for regular staff social gatherings (kicked off every Friday by a blaring blowhorn), events, or ‘town hall’ meetings.
Elements of the bistro, including its green wall and wood flooring, reappear elsewhere to give even work areas a touch of the outdoors. These details are wrapped against the glass curtain wall, enabling sweeping outside views and natural light during the day. Every few rows of benches are served by a “backyard”, an open break-out zone that serves as a natural venue for brainstorming, ad hoc discussions, or away-from-desk work.
Between the open work areas and the building core, itself wrapped with enclosed meeting spaces, is a corridor loop whose 2.4-metre width and contrasting floor colour create a running track that feels perfectly symbolic of a design that “walks the talk” of staff wellness.
The architecture of wellbeing
From materials and finishes to the layout and acoustical characteristics of its spaces, virtually every element of the design were influenced by the global WELL building standard. WELL is a system of metrics and best practice guidelines focusing on important factors in human sustainability: air, water, nutrition, light, fitness, comfort and mind.
Specifically, the GTB office fulfils WELL requirements with a design that encourages people to move, exercise and get engaged, offers access to healthy food and filtered water, features multiple types of workspaces to allow for interactions and posture variations, and gives all staff members access to non-glare natural lighting.
Notably, all the features of the design which support staff wellness simultaneously improve the management of GTB’s business. For example, the office’s range of in-house amenities compensates for its location away from the restaurants and cafes of central Shanghai. Staff wellbeing also helps GTB retain and recruit talent while reducing absenteeism.
Sustainability hand-in-hand with “wellness”
Another notable aspect of WELL is its compatibility with the LEED system for sustainable designed interiors. For this project, the M Moser team implemented these two standards with the support of many of the office’s resulting design features. Examples include the office’s air filtration system, demand-controlled ventilation, and the selection of low-emitting materials in its construction.
Meanwhile, the minimal cellularisation of the office’s flowing, open-plan architecture – and its use of transparent glazing where divisions are necessary – also enables its excellent natural light distribution, reduces the energy requirements of its artificial lighting in the interests of LEED, and contributes to a healthier, happier, WELL-compliant work environment.
More than a change of location
As GTB staff members attest that the wellness effect of their new office’s design has gone beyond their expectations, with many even quitting smoking almost immediately after the move. Others noted an improvement in how team members relate to one another, and how they treat the office itself.
For GTB, this emphasis on wellness and sustainability in the workplace has proven a real breakthrough, one that may be repeated in many other workplaces in the years to come.
- Status Completed
- Area 17,760 sq-ft
- Completion date 2016
- Location Shanghai
- Sustainability LEED Gold
- Wellness v1-certified