In Pangyo, on the outskirts of Seoul, the new headquarters of the South Korean company Hankook, has been designed by Foster+Partners as a ‘technodome’. The Hankook Techno complex embraces several themes, symbolic of the desire to create a dynamic working environment with flexible spaces to reflect upon the future ideologies of the company. The techno complex echoes the advancement as a global brand reverberating the company’s excellence in technology. The free flowing designed workspace particularly promoted a new egalitarian culture for the company profile.
The dynamic planning of working spaces along with a free planning of a combination of formal and informal working environment, acts as a catalyst for change for the company’s efforts to inculcate a progressive corporate culture. Ample amount of circulation spaces along with the design of a central atrium space symbolizes a gesture to create an integrated, cross learning system, with a step towards blurring the boundaries of hierarchy within the company workflow.
The ten-storey building houses a free – planning of offices and its subsidiaries, alongside a state-of-the-art business centre with a 175-seat auditorium. The organic configuration of workspaces allow for flexibility to the building, to adapt with its evolving needs, promoting collaboration between different teams and also providing private space for smaller groups and individuals.
The floor plates coil around a central atrium, allowing for a fluid transition of information, which not only bring about visual interaction, but also allow for a large space for entrance of light which spreads all across the building, through the heart of the complex. This arrangement creates a play of dynamic heighted spaces that look into each other across the different levels, encouraging staff interaction and a system of well ventilated spaces.
The building façades are designed carefully to optimize the use of natural light. Glass louvers wrap the building at varied levels of density to moderate the indoor light levels. For instance, the community and social areas are designed as bright spaces with direct light gushing in and more relaxed, while the workspaces have strict control on the light levels complemented by an intelligent artificial lighting system. This way, the façade and orientation of spaces responds to the activities taking place inside the building, also giving the building a unique critically thought visual identity.
Through the use of a warm material palette, naturally lit spaces, flexible working environment, and a break away from the traditional hierarchical barriers the design aims to create a positive experience for the company staff and various visitors. Nature plays an important role in the success of creation of an integrated dynamic character of the workspace; indoor trees define breakout spaces on each level with greenery travelling to the top of the building, thereby promoting the idea of congregation and importance of communication at various levels. Overlooking the central atrium, the breakout spaces are designed for informal meetings and short breaks, while the open-plan workspaces promote collaboration between different teams.
The building is designed as a fluid combination of social spaces, with the healthcare facilities, staff restaurant, and gymnasium in the first basement, and a landscaped terrace and staff café on the roof. The roof garden takes advantage of unobstructed views across the Pangyo area, offering a unique space for company events.
“The building wholeheartedly embraces the principles of biophilia to create a workplace that is focused on well-being and sustainability,’ says Nigel Dancey, head of studio, foster + partners.”
The central atrium contains a large site-specific art installation by Jason Bruges Studio, called ‘Digital Phyllotaxy’ that welcomes visitors as they ascend to the main reception via an escalator; an elemental welcome for one and all. The artwork is an abstraction of a tree canopy, generating a sense of the outdoors inside the building. The architecture sincerely adopts the principles of Biophilia to produce a working environment that is concentrated on the well-being and sustainability of the users as well as functioning of the company, proceeding towards a futuristic approach.
Travelling up through the spatial artwork, one experiences evolving volumes of light, shadow and color. The reception space includes another triptych media artwork by the same studio called, “Dynamic Tread” which adds on to the elemental nature of the central breathing space.
The Hankook Techno complex seeks to incorporate new levels of spatial openness and transparency throughout the interior, creating three-dimensional visual connections between floor plates. It also brings about a glimpse of an inside out planning of spaces, creating a self sufficient, sustainable environment.
Heidi Han, Associate, Foster + Partners, said: “The Hankook Technoplex is the product of an incredible collaboration between the client, consultants and the design team. Inspired by the CEO’s vision for Hankook’s work ethic, we have created a new symbol for the company that reflects its position as an advanced technology company that attracts some of the best talent in the world.”