Jishan, China

For profit-driven software companies, good business  can be as simple as making employees happy and more productive. The Jiangsu Xingyuan Real Estate Company understood this fact when they commissioned Atelier Deshaus to design a new office complex, part of the Jiangsu Software Park in Jishan, a suburb of Nanjing. Deshaus’ design  creates a comfortable workplace in which a modest scale, and a balance between indoor and outdoor, communal and private spaces establish the serenity necessary for a healthy, creative workforce.

Utilizing a scheme  that mixes  public and private spaces, the architects designed a project with 38 independent office units that share outdoor courtyards. Each 1,000-2,000-square-meter unit is a two-story block that houses small offices, with ground floor spaces opening out onto  interior courtyards, a feature that  creates a communal feeling throughout the compound.

 Whitewashed walls punctuated by clusters of windows enclose each office building, presenting a protective, yet attractive identity for each group of offices. Within these white walls, Deshaus shielded the glazed office  blocks  with  criss-crossing wooden grilles , framing the windows and offering shading from the sun. The grilles are made  of  wiggling lines that form non-perpendicular angles, creating a wavy effect that mirrors the undulating hills of the landscape.

The courtyard layouts, the cubic forms, and the asymmetric grilles all contribute to an updated Chinese vernacular that, above all,  eliminates any sense of sterility from the office complex. “I wanted Chinese architecture, but modern Chinese architecture,” says Chen Jun, president of Jiangsu Xingyuan,  describing  his vision for an “organic community.” Deshaus responded to this request with an approach that uses simple nods to tradition to reflect a contemporary suburban condition.