NOX (Lars Spuybroek)

Soft Office, 2000

Designed for a British television production company specialized in youth programming, Soft Office seeks to intertwine work areas with children’s play areas. Having to be set up in Stratford-upon-Avon, this project is an expression of the research conducted by NOX on the phenomenon of porosity in the early 2000s. Here, the porosity arises from the combination of two empirical techniques: the one for lacquer and the one for wet wool, techniques inspired by experiments conducted by Frei Otto at the Institute for Lightweight Structures in Stuttgart, Germany between the 1960s and 1990s. The internal layout is derived from the technique for lacquer, which, like a ‘Swiss cheese” with innumerable bubbles, joins the horizontal with the vertical by means of its filaments stretching from floor to ceiling, thereby creating perfect continuity. While the technique for lacquer determines the distribution of the spaces, the wet wool technique determines the building’s roof. The various models then developed were part of a complex process of modeling the form, leading to the overall coherence of the whole, here seen to be divided into three areas: at the front, the children’s play area (the Space), at the center, the offices of variable geometry (the Sponge) and at the back, four open branches with glass walls overlooking small gardens (the Fingers).

Nadine Labedade

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