Nicolas Andreas Taralis offices and Showroom
Nicolas Andreas Taralis offices and Showroom in Shanghai. 1400 m2, photo Maxime Delvaux, 2015
Situated in an old industrial complex, the offices are the new headquarters of the brand Nicolas Andreas Taralis in China.
Designed with the architect Bernard Dubois, co-curator of the Belgian Pavilion of the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, the space is conceived of as a hermetic world housed within the shell of the existing building. Situated over 2 floors and 1500m2, the calm and quiet interior transports the visitor into a universe far removed from the daily bustle and hurry of the building’s environs.
Different layers of space and interaction with the existent structure and outside world reveal themselves over the two levels in a mixture of contrasts and harmonies.
Purity, symmetry and centralization are key elements that guided the composition of the project. Materials are kept to a minimum in order to create a monumental whole and a clear design vocabulary — repetition becomes a central device. Shapes are rectilinear, unconditional and markedly horizontal.
The building, divided into 4 distinct zones (Showroom, Studio, Atelier and Administration), functions independently from one zone to another however all are inter-linked through an annular circulation showing in cross-section.
At the heart of the design is the showroom, conceived as a closed box within the existing structure, which immediately transports the visitor into a science-fiction-like world under the glow of an intense light-box ceiling. The sealed and immersive universe commands attention and invites the visitor to discover the brand. The space is markedly horizontal and rectangular; a geometry that is further accentuated through the low ceiling and mirrors placed either side of two long walls and that repeat the room into infinity. All elements express the central composition of the space; a series of columns hint of a cloister or Greek temple in antiquity. Hanging rails in chrome metal run the final perimeter of the room whilst a grand central staircase rises to the second floor studio, the only connection from the showroom to the outside world and existing building. When the light-box ceiling is off, natural light floods from above through the central stairwell.
The sealed and immersive universe of the showroom contrasts markedly with the openness and natural light that radiates onto the upstairs administration and design studios. From the landing of the stairs a narrow passageway between two internal concrete bungalow structures lead into the design offices. 3 rows of monumental tables and storage monoliths are placed centrally in the room behind and beyond that stands a 2 story high metal wall that is the nerve center of the collections being designed. A private staircase behind this wall descends directly into the ateliers where the collections are manufactured.
Materials include cast concrete for the walls and the internal “bungalows”. Poured irregular concrete covers the flooring while a smoother concrete is used for the monumental tables in the offices. Black satin monoliths, in either metal or wood, punctuate the space adding contrast, balance and rhythm to the predominantly grey colour scheme. Chrome framed mirrors and an abundance of glass propagate light and transparency. Finally, pigment-dyed black concrete is used for a monolith in the showroom to display accessories, or in reception counters in the two public entrances.