CO3 Social Office

Connectivity, collaboration and community: these are the three ‘CO’-re values that make up the CO3 Social Office in Puchong, Selangor. Actually, there should be a fourth—coolness!

“We wanted to create the coolest office in Malaysia, so the design had to revolve around unconventional and fun elements,” says CO3 CEO Yong Chen Hui.

The main concern was to create a place where people can connect, so that there will be collaboration, and eventually community, among the members. As such, the design of the space had to be comfortable yet interesting enough to spur conversation.

A team of young in-house designers contributed their perspectives and ideas for the co-working office, which was constructed within 90 days.

The overall design concept is a light industry feel—red brick walls, metals and wood—with Scandinavian and retro American touches.

The office is tucked within unassuming shop lots, with a small staircase leading up to the second-floor reception area. Upon entry, visitors are greeted by a large main hall with a suspended bridge stretching across the double volume space, and a shiny red-and-black ‘wingless’ plane sitting in the middle of it.

More than just an eye-catching feature, the plane holds a more symbolic representation. “The plane and its lack of wings embody the spirit of courage, where flying, or in a sense, ‘succeeding’, is more than just the physical or material, but rather, what’s within you—your courage, determination, persistence, and more,” Yong says.

This spirit also echoes off the office walls, via two artworks by well-known Malaysian graffiti street artist Kenji Chai. One is of an eagle, representing the spirit of bravery and courage to soar, while the other is of a dog strapped to a rocket, a fun take on the idea of ‘flying without wings’.

As the office is located beside a busy main road and a shopping mall, the interiors are designed as a calm respite from the hectic traffic outside. Creating a space within a space is a prevalent theme, and this is translated into a wide variety of nooks and corners for members to use and ‘escape’ to when needed. For example, there is the classy and exclusive-looking Mafia Room, which feels like an entirely different world from the rest of the office, while a ‘greenhouse’ frame in the library area creates a home-like environment for some reading.

Other just-for-fun features include a suspended reading net, sleeping pods and even a metal spiral slide. In support of the local ecosystem, most of the materials used are procured from and custom-made by local suppliers. Local Cengal wood is used to make tables, while certain one-of-a-kind items, such as leather chairs and decorative pieces, are sourced from abroad.

Another note-worthy feature is the Honor Grocer, where members and the public can purchase food and beverages based on an honour system—take what you want, put the money into a collection jar and take whatever change is due. The aim of this is to foster trust among the CO3 community. There are also pantries on each of the three floors, which serve meals and act as meeting points for discussions and collaboration.

The main challenge of this project was to transform 11 shop lots into ‘Malaysia’s coolest office’. The biggest constraints were the limited size of each shop lot and the low ceiling height.

To resolve this, the team decided to demolish and rebuild the internal structure. Creating the main hall involved taking out an entire floor and raising the roof. This effort, paired with the use of more glass windows and skylights allowed more sunlight into the hall, cutting down on the need for daytime lighting and, thus, encouraging sustainability.

The tight time frame also meant work had to carried out on site almost round the clock. Sourcing for distinctive and quality furniture in Malaysia was also challenging and required a lot of research and recommendations to find the right suppliers and manufacturers.

With an existing built-up of 22,000 square feet, CO3 is currently the largest co-working office in the country, and it plans to expand to 32,000 square feet. The company also plans to open four more such offices in 2018.

Project Name: CO3 Social Office
Location: Puchong, Selangor
Completion Date: July 2017
Gross Floor Area: 2,080 square metres
Building Height: 3 storeys
Owner: CO3 Social Office Sdn Bhd
Heads of Project: Erny Looi; Patric Looi
Interior Designers: CO3 Social Office Project Team
Civil & Structural Engineer: Ban Lee Hin Engineering & Construction Sdn Bhd
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Tunas Alaf Sdn Bhd
Main Contractor: Wing Seong Fatt Construction Sdn Bhd
Images: CO3 Social Office Creative Team