Office around a tree

The entire project developed by Lukstudio for their own design office in Shanghai has been focused in restoring the dignity of an abandoned tree in the central courtyard.

Lukstudio, Office around a tree, Shanghai. Photo Peter Dixie for LOTAN Architectural Photography
In this project of their own design studio in Shanghai, Lukstudio found a moment of encounter with nature, so rare in a urban context, in a forgotten courtyard.
It is an old tree, the chimonanthus tree, known also as “wintersweet”. The architects were immediately charmed and so naturally, their design efforts became focused on restoring the dignity of this abandoned tree.
Lukstudio, Office around a tree, Shanghai. Photo Peter Dixie for LOTAN Architectural Photography
Lukstudio, Office around a tree, Shanghai. Photo Peter Dixie for LOTAN Architectural Photography

The site is located in a li-long – a typical late 19th century Shanghai neighborhood characterized by the laneways that connect the history, buildings, inhabitants and gossips within.

Over the years, this Wintersweet witnessed the passage of time while surviving numerous abuses and a lack of maintenance. To protect it and keep it secret, Lukstudio create a buffer to the laneways, starting with a large glazed door framed in a stainless steel lined porch, followed by a series of spaces that includes a foyer gallery, utility rooms and pantry.

Lukstudio, Office around a tree, Shanghai. Photo Peter Dixie for LOTAN Architectural Photography
Lukstudio, Office around a tree, Shanghai. Photo Peter Dixie for LOTAN Architectural Photography
The tree is surrounded with the spaces they would spend most of their time in, namely the conference room and the working area. A floor-to-ceiling double-glazing enclosure allows the tree to be omnipresent. Additionally, they devised a way to physically ‘bring’ the tree inside by capturing its shadows. A light color palette was decided for all interior surfaces, including fixtures and furniture, transforming the interiors into a projection screen and presenting a shadow show composed by the tree, its foliage and sunlight. Thus this tree is always in sight, always a part of the interiors.
Contrasting with the rooted nature of the Wintersweet, desks in the main working area cantilever off the wall. The unobstructed legroom is ensured by a wall storage unit for all computer stations and a multi-functional cable tray system composed of stackable stationery holders. In line with the airy approach, walls are clad with white pegboard where different items can be hung: a flexible system providing more functional surface area for creative use.

Office around a tree, Shanghai
Program : office
Architects : Lukstudio
Design team : Christina Luk, Wesley Shu, Scott Baker, Mavis Li
Contractor : Shanghai Dong Yuan
Furniture supplier : Hay, Paustian, Fermob
Lighting supplier : Tons
Area : 133 sqm
Completion : 2014

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