This project won the 2013 Architizer A+ Jury Award in the office mid-rise category. See the full list of winners here.
In the United States, tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and AOL have effectively changed the way we design our workplaces. The demand for creative thinking in this youthful and mercurial industry has given form to immense complexes and campuses with distinctive and expansive new “work” spaces such as recreation rooms, lecture halls, and gardens.
In South Korea, this is no different. For the popular Korean web portal Daum, Seoul-based design firm Mass Studies was asked to "come up with something ... out of a utopian premise, which was about the company starting a new life and a new work culture on the remote Jeju Island, moving away from Seoul," explained Mass Studies principal Minsuk Cho. The result is Daum Space.1, a sprawling structure equipped with the necessary stimulants for the average, cognitively active tech employee—and the Architizer A+ Jury's choice for best office mid-rise.
At Daum Space.1, vast, open interiors engender freedom of movement and thought; quirkily abstract light fixtures illuminate many of the rooms within, while natural daylight pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows; on the exterior, verdant welcoming lawns and rooftop gardens loosely camouflage the building into its natural environment. But in a sense, Mass Studies has preserved an important aspect of a stigmatized architectural artifact that has become extinct in many contemporary workplaces: the cubicle.
As the project description states, the building consists of “five elementary structural modules of 8.4m by 8.4m with variations … [that] either extend or end the structure as necessary.” In other words, the mass-produced module became a departure point for the design, allowing “the entire campus to grow organically,” as the text goes on to explain.
"The intention was to come up with a grammar," said Cho about the design. "This resulted in specific structural forms, modules, that can be combined to achieve various results, but of the same system and language." Thus the standardized unit — and its slight variations — enabled the firm to create a dynamic yet unified combination of spaces, including small cantilevered offices and somewhat intimate corridors to accompany the building’s loftier interiors. "Although it’s a single building, it has various...labyrinth[ine] qualities, both in the interior and exterior," said Cho. This creates a stimulating yet comfortable village-like environment for Daum's Jeju Island employees while maintaing a lucid architectural language.