Ahead of the Curves

Ahead of the Curves

The Sky SOHO project, still under construction in Shanghai, China, is an office and retail development, the only work in that city by renowned architect Zaha Hadid.

Rendering of an interior of the Sky SOHO complex, image via Zaha Hadid Architects

Rendering of an interior of the Sky SOHO complex, image via Zaha Hadid Architects

The 350m² leasing office for the complex, designed by Raymond Lau, GAP Architects, Beijing, is a fever dream of curves and flows that seems to boil down Hadid’s visual language into a dense concentrate.

Sky SOHO Leasing Ofiice

Sky SOHO Leasing Ofiice

Of particular interest is the Leasing Office furniture, designed specifically for the space, using3-D computer modeling and executed in FRP.  The pieces are made using digital fabrication techniques to mill high-density foam into the large shapes.  In the usual digital fabrication process, the foam would become a mold for the FRP shell, which would then be built up as needed.  In this case, the foam pieces ere simply laminated directly with FRP and became a unique item of furniture.

From the architect:

“Taking into consideration of the dynamic and fluid form of the architecture, the showroom interior and its auxiliary amenities are designed with compatible architectural language which enhances the experience of the formal vistas of the forthcoming buildings.”

“This project composes of three distinct elements: the VIP corridor, showroom interior, and interior furniture. The composition of these elements symphonize into a seamless and integral spatial experience, from exterior to interior, from visual to corporeal. The VIP corridor receives guests from the drop-off zone on the ground level providing a covered walkway towards the main building. Elevated to the second level, the showroom situates next to the elevator lobby accelerating the visitors to a realm of unparallel spatial experience.”

“Leading to the showroom entrance is a parametrically designed VIP corridor applying optimized repetitive structural elements. They overlap and interlock into a formation adaptive to the site conditions. The gaps between each structural element allow views to the outside in addition to the provisions of lighting and ventilation.”

“The showroom interior manifests the energy of skipping stones and dynamic of splashing water. Hence, the directional shapes and propagating curves organize various functional zones into a system of spatial conditions and topological variations, giving the visitors unique and exciting visual and corporeal experiences.”

“Design and engineered with the latest computational technologies, the freeform shapes of the furniture are custom designed to synchronize with the motif of the showroom. They not only satisfy the functionalities with novel formal expressions, they also resonate with the ceiling and carpet pattern to form a united spatial-visual experience.”

“The natural curvatures and forms of the interior surfaces are realized by a combination of 3D design and fabrication methodologies with contemporary material technologies. Due to the complexity of the surface topography, the interior model was integrated into the existing BIM model to ensure build-ability during the design process. The black ceiling shapes are assembled by molded GRG pieces and painted on site. The furniture pieces are manufactured by computer-driven 3D milling of hi-density foam coated with FRP shelling, finalized by glossy paint finishes. Patterns and colors on the carpet are directly weaved according to the digital model.”

Images by Raymond Lau and Jerry Yin, except as noted.