Crossboundaries’ design solution for the interior of the Sanlian magazine offices in Beijing combines the geometric logic inherited from the existing structure with the new workflow goals of the occupant.
Project name: Sanlian Headquarter Offices
Location: Beijing, China
Client: Sanlian (Sanlian Shenghuo Zhoukan)
Size (Usable floor area): 2289 sqm
Design period: July 2019 to October 2019
Construction period: November 2019 to June 2020
Completion date: October 2020
Architect: Crossboundaries, Beijing, China
Partners in charge: Binke Lenhardt, DONG Hao
Design team: YU Zhaoxiong, Silvia Campi, Johanna Leung, HAO Hongyi, YU Hongyu
Construction Company: Beijing Yihao Building Decoration Design Engineering Co.,Ltd.
Photographers: YANG Chaoying, HAO Hongyi
In initial conversations with the client, we got an interesting insight into the evolution that the company was going through – they targeted to adjust to a new way of working in a more open environment with high practical use and needed a space that would enable and reflect that. Detailed inquiries revealed their readiness to reduce enclosed office spaces and give way to a more transparent flexible environment with a variety of casual meeting points that enhance efficiency and influence the collaborative mentality.
Inspired by the structural layout of the entire building that is based on a triangular grid, we continued this strong geometric DNA thread into the interior fit-out. Besides the triangle, we found another clue that was all about the number 3. The occupant of the office is a publishing house called Sanlian (in Chinese: 三联) with the number “3” in its name, focusing on three main domains – society, knowledge and lifestyle.
“Triangles, whether as mysterious ancient religious symbols, such as Solomon’s six-pointed star, or purely as mathematical figures, bring us both mystery and vitality. In architectural design, triangles also convey a sense of stability, classicism and uncertainty,” stated DONG Hao, co-founder and partner of Crossboundaries.
These two inputs related to the number three were the initial starting point for the design.
The total project area is about 2300m2, distributed equally across five floors and organized to satisfy different departments of the publishing company. Each floor is conceived as an open office, with varying additional program elements.
The first step of the design process was the program organization. We took the given area on each of the 5 floors as our “game board”. The existing column grid with the associated beams forms a triangular pattern which allows for division into triangular pieces. This “board” is the space in which we are placing our program elements – namely: flexible working area, meeting space, leisure space, and discussion space.
For each program element, we developed a rule of placement – the work areas are grouped together and exposed to natural light, meeting booths are close to the circulation knots, leisure spots are bridging other elements and discussion hotspots are placed in the middle. With each of the program elements requiring a certain floor area, the design attributes a certain number of triangles to each and executes the zoning.
The result is a contemporary office organization that features open flexible office areas, enclosed fixed spaces, casual gathering niches and bigger meeting spaces. The way people use the space is not static – but subtly guided by the dynamic attributes of the triangle, the daily tasks get done in a variety of spaces depending on the time of the day and range from individual/private to collective or even communal, opening the office for events after office hours. This reflects the client’s desire to create a new lively office environment that encourages sharing and functions as a lifestyle hub – representational of the kind of message that Sanlian is also trying to convey in their magazine.
The triangular zoning further influenced the floor pattern and guided the color scheme of the space, including the red, which is part of the Sanlian’s Visual Identity. We opted for a bold combination of darker and lighter shades of turquoise and the punctuated burgundy red to create a vibrant combination that energizes the space. The ceiling embraces the triangulation as well. Following the direction of the beams, the triangular surface is stressed by linear lighting fixtures. The key lounge pieces of furniture outline the triangular intersections on the floor and even the signage system incorporates the triangle and rounds up the overall design.
“The geometric play makes the space highly functional and led to a holistic design that implemented triangulation not only in circulation, area division and program allocation, but also in the partitioning, lighting fixtures, and signage system. Sanlian’s new office offers the client a fresh, dynamic kick, an iconic new appearance that aligns with their work intentions,” concluded Binke Lenhardt, co-founder and partner of Crossboundaries.
Crossboundaries contributes to a vital built environment through architecture, environmental design and urban regeneration. The studio creates enduring architecture that often deals with remarkable technical processes, yet always has a pleasant material touch and human atmosphere.
Organized as an international partnership, Crossboundaries has staff originating from and trained in different parts of the world. Its first office was founded in Beijing, China in 2005, by Binke Lenhardt and DONG Hao, later, in 2012, a partner office was established in Frankfurt, Germany by Binke Lenhardt and Antje Voigt.
After receiving their Masters Degrees in Architecture from Pratt Institute, Binke Lenhardt and DONG Hao worked in New York for several years before making their home in China. In Beijing they both started off in the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD) before founding Crossboundaries. Today they frequently lecture and teach at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) and at Tsinghua University.
From urban scale architecture all the way down to graphic design, to teaching and event creation, Crossboundaries practices by name, crossing the boundaries into activities and dialogues in the broad field of design and the subject of architecture, continually thinking and doing, the studio is engaging, evolving and adapting.
Crossboundaries has completed a wide range of small scale interior designs and architectural projects of larger sizes. The project portfolio includes Aimer’s Lingerie Factory, several Beida High Schools, Family Box, Soyoo Joyful Growth Center, kindergartens in rural areas, showrooms and offices in collaboration with Siemens and BMW. The firm engages in theoretical research projects such as China House Vision, exhibited at the 15th International Architecture La Biennale di Venezia and also in Beijing in 2018 and is actively participating the current discourse on architecture in China.
Crossboundaries’ work has been published across a range of leading industry magazines and is also frequently featured in online design media. The practice has received multiple international accolades, most recently the 2020 Iconic Awards, 2019 and 2018 German Design Award, Architizer A+ Award 2018, the Architecture MasterPrize 2020, 2019 and 2018 and the ARCASIA Awards for Architecture 2015, Architectural Digest China’s 2015, 2017 and 2019 Award among others.