Ogilvy & Mather,
The need for a larger space to accommodate a growing volume of staff was only half the story behind Ogilvy &Mather Guangzhou’s move from its prime CBD office to premises located in a new urban arts and culture zone on the city’s fringe. As well as providing room to expand, the global communications firm envisioned its new Guangzhou outpost as a ‘carnival of ideas’ that would act as a lightning rod for new talent, despite a relatively remote location.
Occupying the ground and first floors of an industrial-style building, the new workplace is nestled among the galleries and cafes of Fang Cun district. With a total area of 886 square meters, the space features a large mezzanine layer interposed between the floor plates. From this starting point, the M Moser team began arranging the space to reflect the client’s operational and technological needs.
“The general organisation of the space is a direct outgrowth of how Ogilvy works, and namely its very collaborative and creative ‘360-degree brand stewardship’ philosophy,” said Wendy Leung, Director at M Moser. “The ground floor space is mostly public, with a reception area that flows into a pantry and projection room. There is also a separate work area nearby for some marketing staff. The mezzanine we created for the office is more ‘private’ in nature, with its meeting room and think-tank. Finally, the upper floor is the main open-plan workspace.”
The office’s signature ‘red corridor’ creates a journey through the whimsical ground-floor ‘public’ spaces, continuing all the way up to an upper floor workspace awash in natural light.
An evolving ‘carnival of ideas’
While working to optimise the space planning, the team simultaneously engaged in a dialogue with Ogilvy to develop the ‘carnival of ideas’ theme. “We ended up taking it quite literally. The theme became the actual concept for creating a space full of unexpected, playful details. It is a workplace that is meant to compel its users to take a journey of discovery,” said Leung.
At the heart of the journey is a vivid red staircase connecting the ground-floor marketing staff area to the creative staff above. From certain angles, its rigid geometry and rows of red and yellow light-bulbs evoke the appearance of a cinema marquee, albeit one that has somehow crash-landed in the midst of a workplace. The structure also defines the transition between client/break-out spaces at the front and the office area at the rear. Equally important is its function as a ‘red corridor’ which draws people through the office.
Exuberant details – serious purpose
Notable stops on the journey include a boardroom featuring ornate wall panels and carousel horse which functions as an overhead projector. “The horse and many of the other decorative elements look vintage, but were actually custom-made for this project,” said Chan, Associate Director at M Moser. A concealed door opens to a spacious break-out/pantry area with a similarly exuberant carnival theme that is balanced with a solidly multipurpose layout.
“The generous ceiling height also allowed for the creation of a loft/mezzanine, accessed via a suspended walkway leading off the staircase,” Chan continues. Ideal for brainstorming sessions, it also provides a perch from which to observe the activities below.
The ultimate destination of the ‘red corridor’ is the upper floor workspace. Here, the surreal funfair atmosphere gives way to a quiet flood of natural light and a flowing open-plan. A prominent feature wall invites staff to share and shape their ideas. Balconies arranged around the volume offer access to fresh air and views of the surrounding neighbourhood. A final burst of funfair style emerges in the break-out area, where a brutal industrial-style concrete ceiling and plain brick walls contrast with clubby leather armchairs and a miniature carousel complete with horses.
- Status Completed
- Area 9,563 sq-ft
- Completion date 2007
- Location Guangzhou
- Photographer Virgile Simon Bertrand