Founded by architects Zang Feng, James Shen and He Zhe in a courtyard house in Beijing, People's Architecture Office (PAO) believes in designing for the masses and, more often than not, they're inspired by the masses. In creating the headquarters for 21 Cake, a sweets franchise in China, the practice took inspiration from the creative act of cooking — beginning with basic ingredients, mixing and matching until the final creation, and folding in an appealing ingredient with a splash of colour.
The design relies on the interaction of the three primary colours: red, yellow and blue. Selected walls of the office, namely those along circulation areas, are made of laminated coloured glass. These glass panels are layered to create a The office is inspired by the creative act of cooking — beginning with basic ingredients, mixing and matching to achieve the final creation Aside from coloured glass, the rest of the space is simple — according to the designers, the aim was to provide an alternative to the "overuse of form and unnecessary ornamentation" full spectrum of changing hues; as one walks through the different spaces of the office, changing vantage points, in combination with natural and artificial light and reflections, produce dramatic effects. A double-height central atrium topped with a skylight brings in light through the layers of colour along the staircase and glass bridge on the second floor.
To embody the client's emphasis on the quality of their ingredients and strict standard of cleanliness in the making of their cakes, PAO aimed for an invention to communicate simplicity, taste, and quality. Concentrating most of the expressive moments in the circulation areas with the coloured glass, the designers kept the rest of the space simple, with clean white walls and little ornamentation.
This is an excerpt from the "A Multicoloured Recipe for Success” article from the July/August 2016 issue of Perspective magazine.
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