BREATHING SPACES

December, 2016

The new H&M office in Taiwan, set among the mountains of Ruifang, on the outskirts of Taipei City sports a casual, warm and playful environment.

When you think of an office space for a fast-fashion global brand like Sweden-based retail powerhouse H&M, you are likely to think it will be like their stores - bright lights and sleek surfaces, but you won’t find a hint of these in the brand’s very brick-and-mortar style office in Taiwan. 

The arches design
The arches design

The arches design inspired by the concept of the courtyard creates a warm environment.

The brand unveiled its new Taiwan headquarters in the island’s capital of Taipei. Designed by a local firm, JC Architecture, the space houses the retail giant’s finance and logistics departments within a minimalist, cathedral-like space. Complete with a light industrial aesthetic, the clean and open theme is evident through the use of materials such as the concrete floor, unvarnished wood furnishings and whitewashed walls. The logistics office and warehouse were set among the mountains of Ruifang, on the outskirts of Taipei City. The reconfigured space introduces a new approach to logistics offices as opposed to the stereotypical warehouse workplace. The design embodies a casual, warm and playful environment that reflects the belief in each individual’s ability to show initiative.

glass walls
The layout keeps the space fluid using an open floor plan with glass walls.
communal space

communal space
The courtyard serves as a communal space.

The architecture firm employed by the Swedish brand is a local favourite for industrial projects. J.C. Architecture is a multidisciplinary design firm with projects ranging from hospitality, commercial and institutional to industrial design. The firm has won several awards such as IDA, TID, Red Dot, JCD, Golden Torch Award, FIABCI and Chinese Golden Stone Architecture Award. JCA is operated as a studio think tank, developing researching and experimental methodologies for new possibilities pushing design into every corner of their work.

Johnny Chiu, the founder of J.C. Architecture (JCA) who graduated from Columbia University, has lived, worked, and taught in New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Japan, and the US. He believes that good design should be inspired from the individual. The society and the interaction between human and space also concern him while designing. Keeping in mind his own personal sensibility, the space in which the office was to be planned and the brand’s needs, Chiu and his team used the large and open layout to their advantage. “Given the large column span and high ceilings of the site, juxtaposed with the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, we decided to explore the idea of ‘Openness’. We wanted to create a place that promoted creativity, personalization and collaboration while playing a role between the interior and exterior,” says Chiu.

Scenic views of the mountains
Scenic views of the mountains
White tables with minimalistic furniture

White tables with minimalistic furniture gives the space a crisp look

Flooring
Flooring used also goes with the theme of keeping things muted and subtle.

The arches’ design is inspired by the concept of the courtyard, framing them with different heights and widths to perfectly accommodate the idea of gathering. The workstations are placed in what we call the “cloister area,” a hall enclosed by arches with one side facing the inner building and the other overlooking the courtyard. The courtyard is bright and opens out into an outdoor plaza, and is also surrounded by a wooden arcade and its multiple doorways, linking the workstations and courtyard together. The layout was created in a human-scale approach with small groups and breathing spaces, as it dissolves the hierarchy of a typical office. The interior’s arched partitions are undoubtedly the most captivating feature and serve to separate the disparate workspaces for the different departments, both of which connect to a communal space containing the kitchen, a garden, and ample casual seating.


 

Floor Plan

Johnny Chiu, the founder of J.C. Architecture (JCA)
believes in the idea that a good design should be inspired from the individual. Society and the interaction between human and space also concern him while designing. This philosophy translates into all his work. The H&M office in Taiwan won him the Silver in the 2016 American Architecture Prize.