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Old and new lie side by side inside the offices of the 1978 Cultural Creative Park in Guangzhou, China. Formerly a zengcheng paper mill, the traces of the building’s industrial past remains and brought to the present with the introduction of contemporary details, design and functions to evoke a sense of innovation. The project by Lee Architectural & Engineering Design Group (LAD) is comprised across three storeys located of the roadside adjacent to a river.

The headquarters is defined by the use of iron, where the evidence of metal and the old wall form a strong juxtaposition, guiding people to go into the office. Inside, the entire space is connected by a meandering iron staircase that leads from the reception to the group office space, and lastly to the director’s office of the top. The metallic quality emphasises the unusual form of the staircase itself; like branches stemming out from a plant and over time, the material will age and change in texture.

The original brick of the building has been left exposed with the architects retaining as much of the raw nature as possible. “As the sunshine goes through the skylight and falls on the old stone seat, we can see time passing by slowly through the texture of the stone from the first sun rays in the morning to the sunset. People can perceive the past of the land, one day, one year, one century or in the future.” – LAD Design Group.

Circular holes punctuate the roof in different sizes to invite natural light onto the stairs, while geometrical drop lamps hang over the middle. At the top two landings of the staircase sees the entrance into the shared office first, then the director’s office. In contrast to typical office typologies in Guangzhou, this environment is designed to be spacious. With a double-height ceiling, skylights and large windows facing the landscape, the setting aims to encourage employees to communicate freely.

“The skylight and old stone seat echo each other just like a stage for the interpretation of the time. The rough texture of the stone is touched by the rays of sun from early morning to the sunset, making people think of the past of this land and feel the time.” – LAD Design Group. As a result, the offices blend history, culture and spirit to cater the demands of a different era and use; to highlight the approach to interpret, rather than building from scratch.

Design: LAD / Lee Architectural & Engineering Design Group

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