The bold, gritty and energising design of Procon Events & Marketing’s office by Architology matches the company’s dynamic and creative personality. Luo Jingmei writes.
Photos: Bu Shukun. Courtesy of Architology.
Designing an office for a creative company is no easy task. Other than providing functional workspaces, the interior designer or architect has to rise to the challenge of imbibing an equal – or more – amount of creative or conceptual vigour for its workers.
Architology’s solution for Procon Events & Marketing is a successful example. From the onset, there is a sense of dynamism and ingenuity in the interior design, with conventional notions of an office interior turned on its head. This matches the client’s request to make their workspace an “anti-office” environment, says Bu Shukun, designer and co-founder of Architology. It helped that the firm was given free reign by the client “to set up a dynamic play/work ground that breeds work passions.”
With Bu’s treatment, the original 2,300 square feet rectilinear layout in a newly constructed office building at Pasir Panjang is given a design with a twist – literally. Functions such as the meeting room, the bosses’ corner, the pantry, admin area and designers’ work desks snake along the periphery in a zigzagging manner while the lounge seating and main work space are positioned in the middle of the open-plan workspace.
Taking advantage of the tall ceiling height of 5.5 metres, the elevations of the enclosed spaces, such as the lounge cubicle and meeting room, continue the twisting leitmotif to create an office like “a ‘living organism’ with its typical office eco-systems and layout rejigged to challenge conventions,” Bu describes. The result is a space that is as fluid as it is energising.
This being a creative company, “the fluid open plan reinforces typical functions in an ‘anti-establishment’ manner,” adds the designer. For instance, the bosses sit on an open platform in full view of the office rather than being shut away from sight in rooms, as is normally the case for management staff. Likewise, rather than being tucked into a corner, the pantry is designed as a welcoming café/bar with open counters and functions as an alternative space for staff to relax.
Bu adds that in an open-floor plate, a key skill was required to create a meaningful hierarchy and separation of spaces for complex office functional needs. And so, spatially, several features ‘anchor’ the space – one example being the metal cage of a cocoon-cum-lounge wrapped with a mesh frame. Its semi-porous character matches its function as an area for casual team discussions versus the more official “fish-tank” glass meeting room, and provides an interesting welcome feature by the main entrance rather than a typical reception desk.
Another example is a metal framing-cum-lighting feature. A cluster of desks made with metal I-beams add to the dynamism of the shapes and forms in the rest of the interior architecture.
Of the lighting design, the space is well illuminated with a mix of artificial lighting and natural light that comes in from a band of windows on one of the elevations. Placing the glassed meeting room and bosses’ open office along this bay allows more natural light to come through to the main spaces. And where necessary, spotlights from the wall provide discreet but focussed lighting.
Throughout, Bu has chosen to dress the entire office with masculine, moody shades – grey cement flooring and walls, jet-black steel features and surfaces, and dark brown timber used for the raised platform flooring. This creates a feel that is industrial with a tinge of warmth.
“The intention was to create a material palette that befits the company’s image,” explains Bu. “A personification of Procon’s office mantra and team dynamics was translated into their space: raw industrial elements portray the company’s bold and strong concepts and approaches in their work; delicate glass and lighting details show Procon’s refined and alternative execution in their projects and whimsical and tongue-in-cheek displays of props and toys relay a human touch that represent their office personalities and relatable hospitality to visitors.”
The latter manoeuvre imbibes the space with a sense of play that is so essential to the company’s creative processes. “The space was intended as a blank canvas for the occupants to “own” it in their work styles, [so we encourage the workers] to display their personal collectibles and event props,” says Bu.
For sure, there were some challenges in implementing the open-plan layout. For instance, the architect had to make sure diffused task lighting was evenly placed, resulting in the ingenious design of the aforementioned metal frames inserted with lights that create a strong rhythm in the centre of the office. Another consideration was proper sound insulation. For this, areas that needed a relative amount of quiet, such as the meeting spaces, were walled up but their ceilings deliberately kept open to allow “an awareness of controlled noise that adds to the office atmosphere.”
The design of the Procon office adds to Architology’s ever-increasing portfolio of works, which started off comprising more residential projects and now includes various large-scale hospitality, commercial and private housing development projects. It’s not at all an easy feat for the studio that was established just four and a half years ago. Says Bu, “With a varied bandwidth of projects, Architology has been able to cross pollinate and add design touches to create unconventional hybrid ideas.” The Procon office is certainly a beneficiary.