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Five very different projects from around the world made the final cut for the Institutional and Commercial Interiors category, including a marijuana dispensary and an Uber office.

Project: Uber Advanced Technologies Group

Location: Pittsburgh, U.S.

Firm: Assembly Design Studio, U.S.

Team: Denise Cherry and Liz Guerrero with Justin Ackerman, Sarah Dziuba, Hilary Hanhan, David Hunter, Jeorge Jordan and Alma Lopez

In Pittsburgh’s frothing tech and manufacturing hub, Uber’s 7,500-square-metre facility feels suitably industrial for a space devoted to digital mapping, vehicle safety and autonomous transportation.

Assembly Design Studio honoured the city’s history by accenting the futuristic prototyping plant with generous splashes of distressed Corten steel – a material used for everything from custom detailing to entire walls – much of it upcycled from salvaged materials by local furniture-maker Urban Tree. At the centre, two canted wooden grandstands double as vast stairways leading to the second floor, while in the showroom, the latest self-driving car prototypes are given exalted status: deus in machina.


Project: Midwest Inland Port Financial Town

Location: Xi’an, China

Firm: Hallucinate Design Office, China

Team: Wenliang Wang

The Midwest Commodity Exchange Center, a marketplace for metal futures, is a seven-building complex in Xi’an – part of the Chinese government’s trade infrastructure initiative. At its centre, an impressive five-storey main lobby features cascading and curved interior walls of specially extruded aluminum. These vertical slats encase towering LED displays that show scrolling commodity symbols and prices at a massive scale, their digits pixelated by the walls’ slatted surfaces in a throwback to the traditional ticker displays of older exchanges. Undulating, tiered surfaces reappear throughout the interior, following a strict colour palette of white and grey varied with accents of gunmetal and wood.


Project: NCTU Innovation Centre

Location: Hsinchu, Taiwan

Firm: Fieldevo Design Studio, Taiwan

Team: Bo-Yang, Lin; Sheng-Hsuan, Huang and Yue-Jing, He; with Han-Sheng, Hsu and Zhi-Ren, Pan

Taipei’s Fieldevo Design Studio invoked the relationship between tree and bird for the interior of this university startup lab – a roost for student entrepreneurs hatching their ideas. Four wood-framed boxes with pitched surfaces are set into the dropped ceiling, defining the open-concept space’s working areas from above, while maple key-inspired light fixtures spiral toward the ground, echoing the canopy theme. A system of metal frames secured to tracks in the ceiling holds large, pivoting plywood panels that serve as movable office partitions, with narrow gaps that offer smaller working groups privacy while maintaining a discreet visual link.


Project: Claus Porto Flagship Store

Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Firm: João Mendes Ribeiro Arquitecto, Portugal

Team: João Mendes Ribeiro with Joana Brandão, Filipe Catarino, Diogo Correia Duro, Maria da Luz Santiago, Ana Maria Feijão, Catarina Fortuna, Bruno Henriques and Pedro Teixeira

Like a portal through time, a marble staircase connects the two rooms of this split-level Lisbon shop, each with a distinct mood: past or future. Bold geometric patterns of floor tiles define each space, while wooden wall units act as a connective thread between the shop’s distinct epochs. In the retro room, the service counter is a polished brass mono-
lith that reflects the 130-year-old fragrance brand’s beautifully packaged products, displayed in antique apothecary cabinets. Downstairs, the flagship storefront is a sleek and modern salon where doting stylists stow products out of sight in an archive of sleek wooden drawers.


Project: House of Smart

Location: Eindhoven, Netherlands

Firm: Maurice Mentjens, Netherlands

Team: Maurice Mentjens with Annet Butink and Lesley Ruijters

Maurice Mentjens didn’t dabble in trend-driven colour schemes for this cannabis and psychedelics dispensary. Instead, he opted to give his retail concept in Eindhoven, Netherlands, a flatly monochromatic interior. He then enhanced the walls and ceiling of the 85-square-metre shop with a dense maze of criss-crossing wooden shafts connected at right angles – an immersive installation reminiscent of the classic 3-D Pipes screensaver. More practically, the horizontal spans double as shelving for merchandise. Painted a ponderous grey, Mentjens’s eye-filling decor evokes neural networks, whether biological (like a brain’s cerebral cortex) or artificial (like the circuitry of a motherboard).

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