When Glumac had the chance to move their office into the third floor of a 100-year-old mansion in Shanghai’s historic Chang Ning District, they jumped at the opportunity. Given the poor outside air quality, creating a healthy indoor environment was paramount. Taking guidance from Terrapin Green’s 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design, which coalesce Kellert’s Elements and Attributes into simple categories, the team focused on creating visual connections to nature, incorporating natural shapes and forms, bringing dynamic and diffused lighting into the space and promoting healthy indoor air. Combining these biophilic elements with traditional Chinese motifs and materials that recognize the building’s historic context, the transformed office celebrates the heritage of its site and ensures the health and comfort of its occupants.
In bright hues that evoke apples, lime, grass, and new leaves, the color green is used to infuse freshness and a visual cohesiveness to the office space. In the carpet and chair cushions, in the tile backsplash in the bistro kitchen and the translucent partition, and even in the computer screen savers, green accents connect with the Kvatrat cloud installation and the live plants to create a coherent and calming space.
VIEWS AND VISTAS
Every desk in the space has a view to the outside, and the conference room and collaborative work areas incorporate floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors which open up to the terrace. There, occupants can enjoy views of the leafy canopy of mature trees and the lush understory of plants in the garden courtyard below, the historic buildings nearby, and the skyscrapers in the distance.
Glumac employees enjoy intimate contact with nature through the plants on the green wall and the potted plants scattered throughout the office. The plants bring color into the space and connect with the garden courtyard, but they also contribute to good indoor air quality—an important consideration for occupants, as the building is located in a district known for its polluted air. The living wall is dominated by Sansevieria trifasciata, or mother-in-law’s tongue, which was chosen for its air-filtering qualities.
NATURAL SHAPES AND FORMS
SHAPES RESISTING STRAIGHT LINES AND RIGHT ANGLES
One of the most striking features in the renovated office is the Kvadrat cloud installations that are incorporated throughout the space. Designed by internationally acclaimed designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec in collaboration with Danish firm Kvatrat, the “clouds” are made from triangular textile panels arranged in three-dimensional pyramids. The pyramids can then be stitched together to create an endless variety of organic shapes. Inspired by cultural symbols such as dragons and clouds, Glumac employees pieced the clouds together themselves, creating a pleasing pattern of green, white, gray, and black shapes that curve around ceilings, walls, and columns. Not only do these installations provide a playful and softening balance to an otherwise rectilinear space, they also provide an important sound-absorbing function.
SIMULATION OF NATURAL FEATURES
The Chinese consider clouds auspicious, and cloud motifs appear frequently in Chinese art and architecture. In the Glumac office, Chinese “lucky clouds” are incorporated into the glass entry doors as graceful swirls, which are echoed in the intricately engraved stools across from the reception desk. The naturalistic pattern in the carpeting is suggestive of wispy cirrus clouds or flowing water.
A “dragon” wraps around a column in the bistro. Clouds float across the wall behind the reception desk. Excellent examples of biomorphy, the Kvadrat clouds use simple geometry to create complex and surprising structures that suggest natural phenomena and living organisms. Along with the other biophilic features, these symbolic elements help create a unique and stimulating office environment for Glumac Shanghai’s employees.
As you approach Glumac’s office you are welcomed by the “lucky clouds” stenciled on the entry doors; immediately upon entering, you are struck by the three-dimensional cloud structures that wind through the space, inviting exploration. Natural daylight fills the open offices and bistro, and the ample windows and wide terrace provide views to the lush courtyard below. Many take advantage of this sheltered sunny space for napping after lunch. The plants growing on the green wall and in pots throughout the office complement the cloud structures, creating a biophilic environment that connects occupants with nature even while protecting them from poor air quality outdoors.