To be creative is to get rid of the inherent concepts. ——Lai Shengchuan
The Zendai Cube Center is located in the Lianyang section of Pudong in Shanghai, which is a non-business central area. At the beginning, the client did not have a clear conception about the building, being in such an area, aside from aiming at small cultural and creative companies.
Since the occupants of the office building would not simplybe enterprises, but also people, the design team discussed extensively with the client the need to study the distinctive characteristics of the principal users. Cultural and creative industries are distinct in that they apply human creative thinking and technical capabilities as their main “product”.Therefore, the optimal architectural environment for such industries would entail comfortable, dynamic spaces that would allow for both individual contemplation and interactive collaboration.
While practitioners within the cultural and creative industries may have their own specific standards for working environments, there remains a common preference for open, flexible and dynamic spaces. Therefore, we put forward the following ideas for the architectural design:
- Effective spatial organization and utilization;
- Interesting spatial and landscape environments;
- Unique architectural appearance;
- Comfortable office environments with a relationship to nature
The design balanced economics and creativity to produce an efficient plan layout while at the same time provide a distinctive space. The spatial characteristics of the typical floor of a traditional office building was broken, and a Z-shaped duplex spatial unit of 200 to 300 square meters was created using a variety of volumetric combinations, providing a range of creative and interesting working environments.
The two-storey Z–shaped office unit served as the basic component of the building, and its upper and lower levels were arranged separately, with the connecting part sharing a two-storey volume. The upper level could be used as a management area, display area, meeting area, and so forth, while the lower level could be used as a general working area, reception, or for any other required function. There are independent entrances and exits, on different floors, for easy access and management.
The dynamic spatial experience of this arrangement encourages enthusiasm and creativity; the upper and lower levels are open for intercommunication and collaboration. And the amounts of variations possible between specific configurations provide diversified spatial experiences for different units. Hence the name, “Cube” Center.
The exterior design reflects the variety of the interior arrangements by adhering to the concept of “elevation plays as section”, so that the appearance of the building corresponds to the configurations of the internal space. The facade, therefore, has been given a unique urban landscape with a distinctive personality formed by the natural extension of the internal space from the inside to the outside.
Details of the exterior design enrich the interface between inside and out.The landscaped balcony not only enhances the “cubic” appearance of the building, it also embodies a relationship with nature. The vents covering the exterior air conditioners are not just functional components; they also form a special facade element, enriching the artistic effect of the elevation. The granite, aluminum panels and low-e glass and aluminum alloy windows provide the elevation greater rhythm and texture.
Inspired by the patio of a Chinese courtyard, the incorporation of hanging gardens introduces three-dimensional greening. The natural ventilation and lighting this provides improves the quality of the interior office environment. The scenic lift lobby, a semi-outdoor communication space where people may connect with nature on each floor, has a two-storey aerial landscape platform open to the exterior. The VRV air-conditioning system is controlled separately, greatly reducing energy consumption and the low-e insulating glass, which not only meet the visual requirements and transparency, also blocks thermal radiation in summer and winter, reducing building operational costs.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.——Steve Jobs