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How Design is making the Gym Oh-So-Cool

Physical’s new gym features dynamic lines and surfaces that are more than just eye candy. Design studio Panorama tells us the intelligence behind this award-winning Shanghai project.



BY Janice Seow

March 30th, 2017


Health and wellbeing are the buzzwords of our modern age; indeed, we’re more aware than ever of the importance of keeping fit and active. However, this growing consciousness for fitness is not necessarily translating fast enough into the one space we go to, to get in shape.

The progression of Gym design appears more than a step behind to say, the Workplace or even Retail. But perhaps that is changing. Physical’s brand new Shanghai gym, designed by Hong Kong-based Panorama, thoughtfully considers a wide spectrum of elements that go into creating the ideal exercise environment, from spatial layouts to colour, lighting and acoustics.

“With this project, we wanted to redefine and create a new user experience for typical gym activities, with particular considerations to audio and visual elements,” says Horace Pan, founder of Panorama.

First and foremost, a series of sharp and abstract landscapes have been created to represent the high-level exercises that occur in this space. Multifunctional and dynamic floor-wall-ceiling structures set at strategic angles are also designed for specific purposes. Says Pan, “Most of the angles of the ceilings and walls in the open gym area were created to provide comfortable sight line to the recessed TV monitors located in front of the treadmills. The undulating floor in the leisure area was also based on human ergonomics for doing stretching and yoga poses.”

To enhance the dynamic atmosphere, Panaroma have created video projections on surfaces that are music-synchronised patterns symbolising one’s heart beat rate. The open gym features white light and charcoal grey surfaces to suit the need for concentration, while warm light and timber veneers in the changing rooms promote relaxation. Transparent glass boxes in funky colours and bold typographies give privacy and lend strong identities to each space, while full-height glazing in the spinning and exercise rooms are tilted at an angle to best reflect the sound system inside.

Physical Shanghai was recently awarded the Red Dot Award.

Photography by Ng Siu Fung