COFCO Plaza was built in 1996 and it occupies one of the best locations in the city; located 1 KM from the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square along Jianguomen Street at the cross with Chang’an Avenue.
In determining the strategy for the re-development of the building we built on our root focus on the concept of 'innovation through renovation' that has guided our previous work on many innovative heritage and modern building transformations. Kokaistudios has worked to enrich the urban fabric by the re-purposing and re-examination of the potential of existing buildings. In addition we worked closely with the COFCO team to understand their brand and their culture and design a project that embraced and translated this culture into a spatial experience.
Prior to its renovation the central core of the building was home to many home-furniture showrooms, however this market had shifted to new locations in Beijing over the years and the determination was made to re-position the area to more corporate / office functions. Kokaistudios however did not take a traditional approach and instead we conceived of these areas as a hybrid office / hospitality project; where we would create both offices and also communal areas to support the function of main offices that occupied the towers above.
This hybrid area contains fitness, dining, and business conference functions supporting the office towers and COFCO has established its own branded '3C' System for the office building; COFFICE (Smart Office System), COFCO Life (Dinning and Healthy Life) and COFCO Fantasy (Innovation Space, Shared Office and Gallery Exhibition).
The upgrade and reconstruction of Block C and the North-South axis to Block A& B has created an entirely new feeling to the building with the ground floor of Block C now functioning as an open city 'piazza' with customers inter-mingling and mixing on their way to the various areas of the building complex. The new service functions are a destination in and off-them-selves and create an appealing working and living urban environment for the users of the building.
The target of the interior design intervention was first and foremost simplicity. We wanted to eliminate the variations of the existing decorations that were not in harmony with the architectural space and recover the original concise spatial relationships of the building. With the architectural interventions programmed for Stage 2 of the project - in particular the demolition of the slab above the entrance in Block B - the 3 main Blocks will respectively be characterized by the main geometric shapes of the hexagon, the square and the pentagon.
Moreover, the spatial sequence of expanded and compressed public spaces - the three atria and corridors linking across them - will fulfill its potential and reach its climax in the central atrium, Block C, now open both above, below and around, seamlessly connected to the surroundings landscape through its new transparent curtain wall, a vertical composition of metal and glass.
On the top floors of the central Block C sunlight floods into the central square atrium from the circular dome that has been maintained from the original architectural project. This floating glass box reflects and refracts the sunlight to create a geometrical interplay that changes with the sun’s arc and creates a kaleidoscopic light effect that bathes the green space indoor gardens occupying the indoor courtyard.
Precisely in order to blur the boundaries between inside and outside, the ground floor has been conceived from the outdoor landscape gardens in-wards, creating an inviting space which houses a series of cafes and restaurants. The main architectural feature of the basement areas is the newly built spiral staircase, an elegant aerial sculpture that hovers it way downwards and allows people to perceive the entire central atrium of the building.
The COFCO branded areas, including COFCO Life on B1, COFCO Fantasy on B2 and the fitness and leisure areas on B3, combine to create an enticing series of services that add value to office building and create a better environment for its users.
This focus on creating an inviting and comfortable environment guided the selection of materials, with an emphasis on sustainability, and plenty of green-spaces that have resulted in a tranquil environment that stands in strong contrast to the dull patterns of conventional office buildings.
The creation of a modern and comfortable working and living environment however has been achieved in conjunction with a desire to dialogue respectfully with the original nature and design of the building; namely through the maintenance of two of the main original building materials; the green inlaid stone that serves as the demarcations of the main office block atriums and walkways linking the project and the stainless steel columns that give a continuity to the space.
The re-design of the façade is also a representative of the fine line between the preservation of the original design of the building in Block A and B and the striving for innovation with the Block C building façade. Previously composed as an entirely solid block, it has being re-designed to meet the new needs of the office tenant areas as well as to gain its own individual expression and presence within the complex, while maintaining an equilibrium with the other two blocks.
Since the completion of the renovation project the COFCO Plaza has been lauded as a positive example of how urban renewal and regeneration projects can be under-taken in Beijing; respectful of the original design of the building yet aiming strongly at creating a new urban environment representative of the new needs of the Beijing market.
Project Name: Beijing COFCO PLAZA Location: No. 8 Jianguomen inner street, Dongcheng District, Beijing Size: 49,000 sqm Architectural Renovation: Kokaistudios Principal Architects: Filippo Gabbiani, Andrea Destefanis Architecture Design Director: Li Wei Interior Design Director: Rake Wang Design Team: Qin Zhantao，Eva Maria Paz Taibo，Daniele Pepe，Kasia Gorecka、Marta Pinheiro，Rebecca Huang LDI: China Building Technique Group Co., Ltd Photography: Seth Powers Completion: June. 2017 Media Contact: Jacqueline Chiang Email: Jacqueline@kokaistudios.com