SC Office The ubiquity of tower-podium typologies in China may be tied to the increased density and rising land values in these rapidly urbanizing Chinese cities. However, the podium-tower typology poses its own inherent contradictions – these contradictions are particularly played out in the intersection between the upper private floors, and the lower public levels, where competing needs of the different end-users result in convoluted circulation and inefficient spatial buffers. The rather unusual location of this office within a typical Chinese podium- tower complex was the inspiration for the project. The intersection point of the residential and commercial sections of this tower was a roof top garden surrounded by what is essentially “stolen space” – spaces rented out to offices that have no commercial presence or representation anywhere else in the complex, but which generate revenue for the management on otherwise dead spaces. These offices, complete with their own circulation and security systems, do not communicate with either the residences above, or the shopping arcade below, partitioning the complex sectionally into 3 disparate, hermetic zones that have little to do with each other. The interests in “stolen useless spaces”, and partitioning, became the driving forces of the design. The original space was tucked away at the end of an outdoor corridor, and was completely hidden from public view. We were interested in colonizing the exterior space, thereby “stealing” back some space for the rather small interior. We therefore extended a tube from the interior to the common corridor, transforming into an outdoor seating area and a screen that blocks out the unsightly vista across the street as well as the air-conditioning external unit. At the same time, the tube bestowed a public presence for the office and peeked out towards the pedestrian street adjoining the building. Made out of wood, salvaged bamboo flooring and cork, the tube divides the office into a raised meeting room, and the general workspace. The fragmentary forms of the tube were created with quadrilaterals, and posed challenges as they had to be simple, flat surfaces that are usually achieved by tessellating triangular forms. However, the quadrilateral logic was crucial for a clear reading and directionality of the wood strips, and contributed to the sense of dynamism of the form. These quadrilateral surfaces folded and transformed the tube into various programmatic needs, such as a bench, a conference table, and doorways. The thickened tube also housed other functions, such as the office library, shelving, pin-up spaces, and lighting systems. The open office that took up the remaining office space was kept minimalist and neutral, to better contrast with the highly expressive tube form. At the same time, cuts were tectonically sliced into the tube to allow for circulation and visual communication, thereby expanding the sense of space within the relatively small interior, and creating multiple connections between the public and private areas of the office. The careful interrogation of the podium-tower site was particularly productive for this project. The interest and research into “stolen spaces” became the theme of the project, resulting in a design that not only fulfilled the brief, but also positioned itself within larger architectural and urbanistic discourses.


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