Preface Intelligent Innovation, a leader in telecommunication engineering, wished to build a new office to accommodate more employees, from the current number of 40 people to 85 people in the near future. The company, therefore, purchased a 1,300 SQM of land in Khlong Lam Chiak district. On this plot of land were some old structures such as a large warehouse for keeping second hand car parts on the main road, and a 500 SQM, 3-floor reinforced concrete house at the back of the land. Seeing that the warehouse had quite a strong structure, the project owner wished to convert it to a parking lot. The house would also be brought down to the structure and transformed into an office with an extension added to the front part.
Exterior design The owner wished to have the construction completed as soon as possible before the rental contract of the company’s office at that time expired. With this condition, we gave the extended part of the office building an all-steel structure, which would be built on the original pillar grid, floor, and ceiling of the house. However, after the owner approved the design and verified that it was able to serve all the desired functions and purposes, we found that the rooms with important functions – the reception area, the product testing area, the meeting room, and the owner's room – are all located in the front extension. Particularly, the location of the owner’s room which was close to the outdoor parking lot brought many inconveniences, such as the lack of privacy since he could be seen from the outside. From inside the office, employees would see a large concrete parking lot that was not very pleasing to see, not to mention the reflection of sunlight on the concrete and the glass walls in the south all day long, etc.
Our solution is to add more natural elements in the spaces between the parking lot and the building. The eaves are made of opaque polycarbonate sheets which reduce the light. Aluminum laths permit the remaining soft light to enter the owner's room and the trees below. The ground in front of the product testing area is covered with large-sized construction gravels. The reception area is decorated with an overflowing pond, with gourds planted on both sides to create a relaxing atmosphere for people in the building.
Since the building is almost 40 meters away from the road, flanked by a 4-story building, and hidden behind some trees, it is difficult to be seen from the road. We, therefore, designed the building’s façade with a specific architectural language and eye-catching graphics to cover the entire tree line. Normally, this type of façade cover is made of an aluminum-cladded steel frame which is at least 10-centimeter thick, and there are joints every 2.40 centimeters that must be filled with silicone. As a result, the steel frame, which is the real structure is masked. Is it possible to create a façade of almost 7 meters in height from a 1-centimeter thick steel sheet?
If we use a 1-centimeter thick steel sheet as a vertical pole to withstand pressure, the pole is certainly going to bend and collapse, but if we assemble steel sheets into a triangle, the structure will strong enough to be used a pillar. Another solution is to use a 1-centimeter thick steel sheet, that is slightly shorter that the main pillar, as a vertical pole. To install, use a turnbuckle to stretch the steel sheet until it touches the top horizontal steel sheet that serves as a stud beam. Once the installation is complete, remove the turnbuckle. The result is a tensile force between the top vertical steel sheet and the gravity force from below, helping the steel sheet to stand firm without swaying.
Interior design Although an office building has many functions that make it a relatively public space, a certain degree of privacy is still needed. In general, wall stickers are used to cover the glass, but we think that corrugated polycarbonate sheets are able to fulfil this function as well, and at the same time, providing a more interesting aesthetic value. As a result, we installed these polycarbonate sheets with a specially assembled steel frame made from flat bars and angle bars. They can be used as walls and furniture pieces to cover up things stored under the desk or to provide safety for female employees who wear skirts.
Many furniture pieces – document shelves, executive desks, staff desks, a dining tables – are specially designed to incorporate the graphic identity of the façade, but all are in black to be more practical and easier to use.