When it came to designing their new offices in Shenzhen, Chinese practice AD ARCHITECTURE saw an opportunity not just to create an efficient and pleasant workplace for their team to thrive in, but also to redefine the office of the future. Underpinned by a minimalist design language that nevertheless feels imaginative and hand-crafted, the space defies modern office conventions, both in terms of configuration and aesthetics, espousing instead a non-hierarchical layout and unexpected colour scheme. Described by the architects as an “impulsive yet intentional” design, the space strikes a fine balance between business decorum and artistic freedom, offering a unique sensory experience along with panoramic views of Shenzhen Bay – the perks of occupying a high floor in one of the city’s modern skyscrapers.
Sporting a V-shaped floor plan, the office is conveniently divided into two main zones, an open-plan workspace and a mix-use social area that functions as a reception, lounge, meeting room and break room, with a materials library in between. The non-hierarchical configuration also extends to AD ARCHITECTURE’s chief designer, Xie Peihe, whose desk is part of the social zone. In fact, the only nominally private office, that of the finance officer, is a glass enclosure within the open-plan office zone. Featuring wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows, the open-plan layout of the work and social zones not only facilitates communication and collaboration but allow employees to enjoy the full extent of the sweeping views as well as maximize natural light distribution.
Undoubtedly, the most radical departure from the modern office typology is the monochromatic palette of dark grey hues which includes not just the walls, floor and built-in furnishings but also office desks and chairs. Subverting the predominant white and light-coloured workplaces, the sombre colour scheme not only allows the sweeping views of Shenzhen Bay to take centre stage but also makes the landscape appear brighter and more vibrant. Additionally, the monochromatic setting conjures a distraction-free, calming ambience that’s conductive to concentration, while the handcrafted quality of the travertine-textured wall plastering imbues the space with warmth and underlines the office’s human-centric focus.
Stainless steel and glass furnishings add to the overall sense of contemporary sophistication as does an eclectic mix of modernist and contemporary furniture pieces like the iconic Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman, Tadao Ando’s TA001T Dream Chair and pieces from Cassina, Driade and HÅG, the latter in the form of its acclaimed ergonomic office chairs.
Doing away with the conventional notions of the workplace, employees are free to conduct business meetings in a more relaxed and casual manner in the social zone where they can also take a break from their desk to relax, have something to eat or chat. What’s more, a fully stocked bar, in conjunction with a smart lighting and stereo system means the space can easily be transformed into an entertainment area, which we can only presume comes in handy at the end of a hard day’s work.