DAGA Architect‘s Jinmao Capital J-Space Office is a tribute to Stanley Kubrick’s unforgettable masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. J-Space, an interior at 4,427 square metres and inhabiting four storeys of a newly built tower, is designed to offer a unique breakaway from workers’ 996 culture (working from 9 to 9, six days per week) with classic cinematic tropes often found in space-age films.
This coworking space resides in Shangdi, an administrative division known for advance technology within the Haidan district northwest of Beijing. The clients, a real estate and finance corporation Jinmao Capital and freelancer marketing website Zhubajie requested a collaborative environment for their employers and clients. The architects, determined to inspire employees’ work ethic by immersing the area’s pride, decided upon an intergalactic interior.
The design is made almost in parallel to Kubric’s film – each level and turn on every floor is dedicated to chapters spliced from Space Odyssey’s narrative. The architects imagined the new building as a ‘luminous’ alien object that’s unassumingly descended among a neighbourhood of other giant innovative tech companies. Visitors (or ‘astronauts’ in this scenario) are immediately drawn in by a ‘steel-clad’ tunnel disguising storage amenity. Walking down the long-drawn tunnel, travellers are whisked away into a never-ending path while being mesmerized by moving images of a plasma ball-like pattern before turning left towards a set of the geometric golden staircase that ascends upwards to office spaces, gyms, infant room or coffee zone on the fourth floor.
Upper floors are consistent in layout, comprised of a combination of open or closed work zones bordering the edges, while communal activities are focused at the central area. Bright white walls and spaces encased in glass walls allow a sense of togetherness, with fluorescent tubes arranged in a cross as a nod to industrialism and angled mirrors distracting from the white exposed ceiling. Peppered grey carpets line the floor, although certain spaces are reserved for white-tiled disco dance floors. With added steel benches and metal furniture, the overall mood does feel clinical. Although the circular motifs and elements found in doors, the signage and wall-mounted CD players, and futuristic spherical furniture that looks like it’s been pieced from savaged parts of a rocket, add a playful touch.
In such an otherworldly environment, DAGA Architects strategically returns earthy elements that hold a fictional narrative, while providing a sense of familiarity within the coworking space. Upon entry, before the stairs and around communal kitchen areas, are internal Zen gardens dotted with Gongshi for the tactile crunch. A vertical green wall disguising an elevator shaft stretches across the upper three floors, while floating moss-covered rocks are suspended like meteorites frozen in time. A touch of green spawns on the planters and walls are used for implied separation – a gentle reminder that nature will always remain a precious resource despite the rush for effective technology.
Five, four, three, two, one… add in a space-themed soundtrack and a muffled countdown, we have found ourselves within our own spacesuits as we launch into and work within DAGA Architects’ theatrical office space design. With encouraging memos such as “Let’s Keep A Little Optimism Here” imprinted on thresholds and eccentric characteristics and circulation, perhaps the outcome is an interpretation to the designers’ response to Space Odyssey’s open ending.