Cultural foundations

In April, the Czech headquarters of Scandinavian office furniture producer Kinnarps moved from its location near Karlovo náměstí to a brand new, custom-made building in Průhonice-Čestlice.

THE HEADQUARTERS expresses the ideas and zeal of Tony Shee, managing director of Kinnarps, who also plans to use the building to host special events. Its design combines feng shui philosophy with an homage to Scandinavian history and techniques. At once a headquarters and a showspace, as well as a distribution and event center, the building is on its way to becoming one of the architectural landmarks on the outskirts of Prague.

The bright and open space is meant to give a feeling of being free from barriers and to foster creativity. Natural daylight patterns of light and shadow continually change inside; additionally, the lighting is fully adjustable and flexible.

Along with an unmistakable nautical feeling, a sense of movement is created by the angles and curved roof. Contrast between the transparent and the wooden facade is important in continuing the sense of interest and movement. Just like the Scandinavian style of home construction, the wooden portion – not just cladding – uses a fully wooden structure inside-to-out.

A fire escape you say? Even this usually mundane safety essential has been carefully integrated into the design.

A fountain with feng shui elements and playful hands spouting water welcomes guests at the building’s main entrance. Jutting from the facade above is the presentation room, while a stylish “smokers’ atrium” occupies the corner of the building.

from the outside
Tony Shee
Managing director, Kinnarps

You played a larger role than most users do in the design of this building. Can you comment on this and what you wanted to express?
Yes, we had a very strong concept of what we wanted from the start. We used a lot of glass, but we wanted to keep it warm, and we did this with wood and curves. Besides, I’m fed up with looking at square buildings! Scandinavian references are there in many ways – the wooden ships of the old days, the abundance of water and canals, and the bridges that connect people and places. That is what it’s about, connecting – both bridges and ships do that, and so that imagery is in the final design. That concept didn’t move an inch really, and it’s continued in the landscaping.

from the inside
Vladimír Bidlo
Partner, Atelier A.B.D.

Your studio’s participation brought Kinnarps’s ideas to fruition. Can you comment on the building process and final result?
We worked very hard on this, but with success I think; in the end, it’s very dynamic – the shape creates a sense of movement. At the same time, it allows every square meter to be used. One interesting aspect during construction was that the main system of steel columns and wooden beams allowed for parallel construction of the roof cladding, both facade portions, and other activities, substantially increasing construction time.

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