Arboit Ltd Design and Architecture creates a celestial-inspired headquarters for a fast-growing communications company in China.
Digital communication companies that house hectares of server racks are rarely considered for their creative potential. In Guangzhou, one of China’s fastest-growing tech hubs, Cloud DSC is changing that by turning its industrial park location into an immersive environment.
“Investments in design are usually found in areas like the hotel industry, but a factory is a whole new realm to explore,” says Alberto Puchetti, the Italian architect whose Hong Kong-based firm, Arboit Ltd Design and Architecture, has reconfigured the data centre’s 20,000-square-metre headquarters. Part of a larger master plan, the project is the first to be added to a campus that will see new buildings and landscaping roll out in the coming years.
The commission also entailed providing a graphic identity that would appeal to such corporate giants as the Alibaba Group and instant messaging firm QQ, both of which are Cloud DSC clients. In China, branding is still a relatively new concept, for tech start-ups in particular, says Puchetti. “Some might not even have a logo,” which makes an investment in design unusual, as a way to gain a competitive edge. The seven shades of blue he used play on the company’s name, in a figurative interpretation of the internet’s endless flow.
“We wanted to capture the idea of flying through the sky, like when you look outside the window of an airplane,” he says. Stretched out over a single level, the space unfolds as an infinite loop, where every corner has been rounded to create one seamless environment. The ceiling treatment, made of white translucent stretch fabric illuminated by LEDs, guides staff and visitors from the lobby to various zones. At the core is a meeting room with a pattern of clouds printed on the floor in laminate and glass, and a marble table surrounded by Eames chairs.
Happy to indulge in sci-fi metaphors, Puchetti regards the room as the hub of the enterprise, with large oval windows overlooking a control room, a 3‑D screening pavilion, and a video studio shaped like a giant pill. On the periphery is the 30-metre-long elevated showroom, partially encased in a spiralling shell coated in brushed mirror. Surrounded by displays of the company’s hardware, including hard drives and small-scale servers, visitors are by this point fully immersed in the Cloud DSC universe.