by Anmol AhujaJun 22, 2021
Contrary to the notions of traditional office design, Peacebird Fashion Centre, the iconic Chinese fashion brand’s headquarters are envisioned as a collective of dynamic spaces that constantly inspire and nurture its users. It aims to create an environment that fosters creativity and interaction amongst the people working there. Designed by Daniel Statham Studio, a London-based practice, the 78,500 square meter building is located in the heart of Ningbo’s new Central Business District. Ningbo, which translates to ‘calm waves’, is a major port city and an industrial hub in East China’s Zhejiang Province with a rich cultural history, and proves to be a definitive factor in the design journey of the building with its architectural spirit.
Named by the founder and chairman of the company, the fashion brand Peacebird echoes the company’s philosophy of being “harmonious and free as a bird”. Along with reflecting the brand’s ideology in the design of its garments and textiles, it was pivotal for the building to also contemporaneously celebrate the rich cultural history of the city, according to the architects. A reflection of that effort is visible in the inside-out spatiality of the building, with its interior spaces carefully planned along a central vortex, accessed in a fluid, sinuous movement pattern through the building. The architects also drew inspiration from the Fujian Tulou, rural Chinese dwellings unique to the Hakka culture, the structural and material brilliance of Tian Yi Ge, China’s oldest existing library, and the idea of a bird’s effortless flight using the natural phenomenon of thermals. The resulting design is an amalgamation of these ideas, both in terms of form and organisation.
The stacked circular geometry of the building with a large central void also guides the spatial organisation of the building in transitioning from a more private domain in the centre to public spaces on the outside. While the peripheral arrangement of office spaces and the roof garden offers a spectacular 360-degree view of the city, the garden in the center which acts as an anchor and a break-out space for users of the building is only revealed gradually as one moves through the building. Spanning a total of 50 metres, the domical garden with its landscape design, walkways, amphitheatre, and interesting water elements is a reinterpretation of an ancient Chinese garden. Gradually rising up to two storeys of the building’s height, the garden ‘crowns’ exhibition spaces, conference rooms, and a dedicated area for fashion shows, all accommodated in the basement of the building. During the summer months, the central court and garden is also used for company events, lectures, and movie nights for the office’s employees. Furthermore, other public areas including the reception, restaurants, cafes, bar areas, auditorium, and circulation areas are all located along that central space to help retain its largely public character, lending a contemporary interpretation of the courtyard architecture typology.
Along with the Peacebird Fashion Centre being a highly conceptually driven building, it also responds to the region’s climate to achieve a comfortable interior temperature for its users. The 15-degree tilt to the South of the building helps bring in increased daylight in the interior spaces. The peripheral circulation path which acts as a buffer space and the central void which brings in daylight and facilitates natural ventilation all help in increasing the overall energy efficiency of the building.
The building’s façade design also plays a crucial role in not only achieving occupant comfort, but also in creating a distinct architectural expression for the brand’s headquarters. Both external and internal façade systems oriented toward the courtyard share a similar angular geometry, but are designed to respond to their respective structural and solar requirements. The external recessed façade of the building with a fully transparent floor to ceiling glazing and vertical vents for natural ventilation optimises daylight in the interior spaces and provides expansive views of the outside. A secondary shading system of vertical and diagonal fins is also employed to respond to the different positions of the sun. The double-layered internal façade too has similar diagonal fins acting as structural columns, accommodating the structural load from the span of the building, and the dead and live loads of the internal floor plates and staircases, resulting in a circular corridor space for the users which overlooks the central garden.
The studio’s holistic approach to designing the circular building, imbuing it with a “spirit, energy, and expression of identity for the client”, is intended to represent the best of Chinese architecture and culture in the region.
Name: Peacebird Fashion Centre
Location: Ningbo, People’s Republic of China
Site Area: 78,500 sq.m.
Client: Ningbo Peacebird Group Ltd.
Architect: Daniel Statham Studio