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28 March 2012
Beauty Blocks, Singapore
A miniaturised city experience works as a surprising concept in the headquarters of a Singaporean beauty enterprise. Yvonne Xu has this story.
Office spaces created by Singaporean designer Kevin Lim never fail to surprise. With his latest – the new headquarters for local beauty group Estetica – subversion seems to be the order of things: he’s put in a miniature city experience in the 151sqm space.
3 Deconstructivist-like volumes, conceptualised and planned as an ‘urban collective’, anchor the linear space. Despite the playful altering of familiar massing, the pull and push of geometry, and the subversion of common expectations of an interior space, Lim says that every formal gesture in the project addresses Estetica’s ever-underlying need for practicality.
What Estetica needed was for its new headquarters to accommodate general office programme such as work and meeting spaces, but it also required sizeable storage spaces and specialist training areas.
Lim first identified that there were 3 main user groups of this space: the service staff, the office staff, and guests – all had varying user patterns and trajectories but could also combine into several possible work groups, i.e. office staff could be mingling with guests, or working with service staff. Considering this, Lim organised the spaces with adjacency, placing similar functions and possible work groups together around the multi-block setup.
What results are 3 established zones – the Frontage and Support Zone holds, among other functions, the reception and a history tunnel for visitors, in the middle, the Process Zone is where the meeting rooms and training areas are, and, finally, in the deepest part there is the Reflection Zone where the directors offices are located.
“Flexibility and porosity were crucial qualities for communication especially in this multi-block configuration. The meeting room, training room and seating area could function autonomously or be merged into one contiguous space through flexible partitions.
“In addition, sight lines between blocks help establish relationships between complementary functions while circular apertures through walls complete these linkages on a smaller scale,” shares Lim.
Around the periphery, a black band connects the spaces visually but also functionally, not least in how it is localised to the needs of each block. At points, it is storage for beauty equipment, at others, it forms seating during training sessions. A connecting bridge and the layering of second-level spaces that house the breakout area and flexible workstations further pull the space together.
Lim says that the city block concept draws parallels with the Singaporean company’s history and aspirations – this is a brand that is emerging from the residential heartlands to have a gradual presence in the central commercial areas.