The Woods Bagot designed Tang Foundation Headquarters in Suzhou, China, aims to encourage the spirit of caring and compassion for others.
Approached as a not-of-profit architecture project, Tang Foundation, which is an organisation dedicated to innovation and collaboration in education, was created as a place for ‘University Students’, not for adults. Woods Bagot provided just what they want, a space that is energetic and inspirational.
“It is an interior that intends to “inspire” students to create and collaborate,” Godfrey Lam, Senior Associate of Woods Bagot says.
Founded in the 1980s by Mr. Cyrus Tang, a successful Chinese-American businessman, the fTang Foundation is an organisation that was established to provide assistance in the areas of education, healthcare, and community development. This charitable foundation does not only provide financial assistance for academic excellence; more importantly it requires recipients to engage in public service activities to attract more people to participate in charitable activities. The intent is to strengthen the concept of social responsibility.
Delivering on a mandate from Mr. Tang himself to create an inspirational space differentiated from that of a school or museum, Woods Bagot was careful to tailor the space to the students.
With this in mind, a key design feature, the lobby’s central sculptural columns were inspired by young people on the street playing ‘spinning tops.’
“I was mesmerised by the motion and energy and came up with the strange idea of conveying that sense in the reception. Earlier sketches show different types of column enclosure and we were experimenting with different materials. At the end, we chose to use artificial stone because of its stability and durability,” says Godfrey.
There is a balance between calm and energetic, light and dark throughout the building and the remainder of the public spaces is an extension of the site’s exterior courtyards. Wooden curving walls, peppered with the occasional bamboo plant conveys a sense of “quiet dynamic”, which is juxtaposed with the “hurricane” like column enclosures.
The complex houses an auditorium that seats 400 at its maximum, the walls of which were lined up with sound absorbing panels and clear polycarbonate panels clad across the concrete wall.
The dynamic library houses Mr. Tang’s vast collection of books. Shunning the traditional take on libraries with their shelving lined walls, the designers created a Lego inspired reading room, a space incorporating giant ‘lego’ blocks made of acrylic that can be stacked in varied configurations. The result is a library space that can expand or contract, stacked up high or low, according to the user’s desire.