Text description provided by the architects. This design for a law firm is located in the residential neighborhood Damansara Heights, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The project involved the reuse of a partially demolished 40-year-old house that was then expanded by 50% of its original size. An expanse of brickworks unites the existing and new building sections and provides for an increased thermal mass through large wall protrusions protecting glazing windows from direct sunlight exposures. While the appearance of the building is monolithic from the street front, large, glazed surfaces are located at both sides opening up to a series of pocket gardens that allows for ample natural daylight and cross ventilation to the interiors. Essentially, passive cooling methods have been employed as a core principle to optimize the building’s performance and prevent extensive use of mechanical air conditioning while maintaining optimum comfort.
In addition to this, trends in the design of law firms are centered on factors such as individuality, connectivity, wellness, and flexibility. We worked closely with the senior partners so to align our design with the firm’s working culture. If it seems obvious that private offices are a permanent fixture for attorneys for a myriad of reasons, however, right from the start, the notions of collaboration and connectedness also appeared a must-do. Translucent Sandwich Panel
Given the tremendous pressure imposed on attorneys, the more opportunities they are given to leave their desks - to be surrounded by something different (colors/sounds), or even meet in a small room or hang out in a ‘café’ - the better. With this in mind, the main idea has been the integration of ‘breakaway’ spaces - such as indoor ‘lounges’ or outdoor spaces - so to provide alternative work settings with consideration to well-being. Thus, various units were incorporated throughout such as private meeting rooms, a café/bar, 2 pantries with terraces, and a roof terrace for functions and events. All the above are strategically located in continuation with numerous pocket gardens, as well as extending simultaneously offices and meeting rooms. The main entrance is at ground level. Here are located the meeting rooms for clients, a conference room, a library, a pantry, a bar, a printing room, and some multi-purpose rooms, while most offices are located on level 2. The direct visual relationship with the surrounding lush greenery immediately leads us to a very distant universe from the busy city that was left outside the building.
The piece de resistance of the building is the library which constitutes the main focus of the space. Libraries have earned great symbolic importance in law firms. Consequently, it became the central element in the organization of the building. It also seemed appropriate to us that it should be the first visible element to visitors, hence this was not supposed to be only an element to accumulate and organize books, but also one that represents the ideology of the office. The attorney’s job is, in essence, cerebral. It shapes up in agreements and discussions, but it is a job of services, based on people and knowledge. Thus the library is nothing less than the representation of collective knowledge available to the firm's client. The two-storey library connects the office both functionally and visually, from the reception to the conference room through to the terrace and the surrounding green lawn, while a spiral staircase leads clients to a private meeting room located on the upper floor labeled the ‘war’ room, the place where the essential works of the firm are being produced.
In addition to this, about one-third of the building is primarily planned as multi-purpose rooms designed with the intent to be leased to sole practitioners while permitting them to plug in into the main office infrastructure. These units simultaneously permit to accommodate for potential growth, staff increases, and what-if factors, with ready-made spaces that allow for inexpensive future changes. Lastly, the interiors overall are meant to be sober and minimalist. The floor is designed in custom-made prefabricated polished concrete plates that emphasize this aspect, and alongside the brick of the external walls reinforce a sense of tradition. Furthermore, the choice of woodworks, artworks, and furniture designed and selected by Studio Supereka will add a contrast transforming the main spaces of 181Chambers@Semantan into a true gallery further expressing the ideas of values and solidity inherent to the firm.
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