Regional Interiors: MomentCam HQ

The client, the software developer of the MomentCam mobile app in China, approached AND Lab to design their new 773-square-metre office in Galaxy SOHO—a landmark in Beijing’s central business district (CBD) designed by Zaha Hadid—as part of their expansion plans.

The client requested an office space that could accommodate about 100 staff. As an IT start-up, it needed numerous meeting and discussion rooms. It also requested for a pantry as the company provides lunch to its staff, an audio-visual training room, an interview room and storage spaces for snacks.

The concept of Ma, a type of spatial quality that exists between elements, was inserted into this project by way of defining blurred boundaries, with the use of overlaying transparent and translucent glass panels, to create diversity in an otherwise long and linear office space.

The Galaxy SOHO building has a full-height curtain wall running through the whole perimeter of the building to bring in sunlight and the vibrancy of the CBD into the interior. Capitalising on it, and to reduce the artificial lighting load, glass partitions were used between the offices instead of solid walls.

To make the transparent glass partition appear even more weightless, the aluminium extrusion profile were modified to include LED strips at the bottom. This also created a high-tech atmosphere in line with the image of an IT company. For a ‘floating’ effect, the glass partition cantilevers from the open ceiling.

The reception area has a solid wall to protect the privacy of the sensitive content on the computer screens in the office from outsiders. To brighten the space, the designers used light and the colour white. The walls and ceilings are finished in imported high gloss hard plaster, with embedded LED strips covered with acrylic. The floor is finished with linoleum flooring, which is waterproof and made from biodegradable materials.

Summer is short, and winter lasts for about four to five months in Beijing, casting a grey and dull spell over the city. To ensure a year-round lively environment in the office, lots of green—from plants to upholstered chairs—is used in the interiors.

More than 80 per cent of MomentCam’s employees belong to the post-’90s generation, after the one-child policy was introduced in China. This generation has a stronger sense of individuality. AND Lab proposed an open-plan office that promotes communication between the employees while respecting their individuality. The infrastructure was designed to support their work and nurture the atmosphere.

For instance, the workspace is surrounded with drawable walls, using materials such as back painted glass, blackboard and bake-painted MDF boards, which work with markers or dustless chalk. A long continuous wall that runs through the office is made of sliding back-painted glass panels, which offers a continuous surface for the staff to express and exchange their ideas. The writings are left on the walls, creating a dynamic working environment. The overall base colours of the office are white, matte silver and black, to direct focus on the ideas that are left on the ever-changing walls.

The staff are also offered several choices when it comes to venues for discussions or meetings, from formal meeting rooms to informal coffee corners. A discussion space was created with a café setting in between two departments.

The meeting rooms can be joined into a single meeting room. The movable partitions are made of back-painted glass that can be written on. The other side of the wall is a full-height, builtin lightbox, with white film and fluorescent lights installed behind the glass.

The whole office occupies six units, taking up almost half a floor of Galaxy SOHO. Each unit has two doors, with 12 doors in total. The doors were quite distracting, but they had to be retained to comply with the fire codes in Beijing. To work around it, the designers put the long continuous sliding glass panels in front of the doors. Not only did this provide ample drawable surface, but also created storage and shelving space in between.

The existing offices were finished in tiles. As the existing partition walls of the six units were demolished, the team faced a problem of empty marks left by the partitions. They had to find the tile supplier to patch out the marks.

As there are not many straight walls and the columns along the glazing are all slanted, this posed a challenge to the interior planning and layout. This is the reason why the desks are arranged perpendicular to the curved façade. The shelving design in this project was also inspired by the slanted columns and slanted in the same angle.

Project Name: MomentCam HQ
Location: Beijing, China
Completion Date: October 2016
Client/Owner: MomentCam App Developer (HighTalk Investment Group)
Gross Floor Area: 773.23 square metres
Interior Design Firm: AND Lab Pte Ltd
Lighting Consultant: Philips Lighting
Interior Fit-Out Contractor: Dongzhou Zhisheng Construction Decoration Engineering Co., Ltd
Images/Photos: Jonathan Leijonhufvud