Telenor Campus is one of the largest telecommunication companies in Pakistan, serving the country for almost the past two decades. It pledges to support the socio-economic development of its user and progress towards a sustainable technological future. The new headquarter of the Telenor stands as a tangible statement of the pledges that it beheld. It was designed by a renowned architectural firm; ARCOP in 2014.
The quality of workspace and the environment of the company’s office is a reflection of the true agendas and beliefs of the company. The way a company treats its employees is enough for one to distinguish whether the pledges made by the company are real or merely a statement.
Upheaving from the Topography
The project stretches over a 15acre area of land, in the outskirts of Islamabad intersecting with the dynamic landscape of the Potohar Plateau. The project complements the site through the juxtaposing structure, color, and texture. Firstly, the structure juxtaposes with the site’s undulating topography across the natural water bodies. Secondly, keeping the natural water intact led to creating a structure inspired by the step-wells of Punjab. These step-wells were an architectural device to create water reservoirs. The color and texture of the rammed earth wall create a rhythmic pattern with the site. As a result, the earthy neutral tones of the wall creating harmony with the site instill a soothing aura in the workspaces.
Continuity with Context through the Material at Telenor Campus
The material palette of the project consists of textures and earthy hues that allow the gigantic structure to seamlessly blend with the context. Therefore, the unidirectional staggering of rammed earth walls anchors the project to the landscape almost creating an illusion of rising from the topography. The natural material and the thickness of the walls act as a cooling device, although, the use of concrete was a structural requirement. Therefore instead of giving it a finished look, however, the architect choose to keep it as fair-faced concrete. The rough surface and texture of the fair-faced concrete complemented the natural yellow stones used in interior spaces.
The interconnectivity and the comfort of the workspaces were the two major objectives of the projects. Thus the objectives combined with the existing site features dictated an architectural language for the workspace inspired by the traditional court. The traditional local architecture revolves around court spaces. They acted as connectors between different spaces in addition to being a transition node between two spaces. Thus these semi-open spaces with a central water body; a natural element acted as wind corridors ventilating the surrounding masses. The architect respected the essence of this traditional court whistle transforming it into a commercial typology.
The masses were staggering diagonally to create a visual enclosure around the water bodies. Consequently, these enclosures were interpreting as courtyards that connected different blocks. Collectively such informal interaction between the employees increases due to open courtyards between the masses that act as communal spaces.
Interactive Spaces of Telenor Campus
The project attempted to break the hierarchical system of corporate offices through subtle architectural gestures. One way to do that was to create these introverted courts that subsequently, encourage social interaction between the workers. Therefore, a free floor plan was an architectural strategy apply to design it as an interconnected workspace. Above all, the design introduced social hubs; co-working spaces shared desks to elevate the socio-economic status of the company.
Circulation Corridors a Microcosm of Traditional Street
The circulation corridors primarily function as a spine connecting all the spaces including the workspaces, conference room, meeting room, lounges, cafeteria, etc. The spatial language of the circulation corridors was inspired by the local street of a typical city. Thus the main street branches out into a narrower street that opens up into spaces, and it expands into communal spaces. Such expansion and contraction of the corridor create it adynamic activated spaces that, consequently, accentuate chance encounter between user. Therefore the circulation corridor was a spatial layer between the workspace and the outdoor courts. Subsequently, it creates a transitionary movement from workspace to leisure space allowing the user a peel off the work stress. Thus a single circular loop increases the chance of encounters between the employees of different departments.
Orientation of Telenor Campus
With the transparency of the corridors, the exposure to the sunlight is maximized, generating excessive heat in the workspace. Due to this the orientation of the structure became a very crucial aspect of the design. Therefore, the masses were oriented on the North to south axis providing maximum opening towards the north end. The thick rammed earth walls were aligned along the east and west façade with few openings to minimize the heat gain. As a result, the built masses were staggering along the southeast to north-west axis creating a wind corridor that maintains natural ventilation in workspaces.
Thus, the project rejects the typical notions of designing a corporate office whistle, It uses the modern concept of co-working space with the traditional architectural strategy of courts and step-well. Such merger of concept and formal articulation ties the project with the modern world whistle being a root in its local context.
Aqsa is an architecture student and a self-taught writer. With a keen interest in urban planning and cartography. She believes that words are the fourth or the unseen dimension of a space that can enable people to connect to spaces more than ever thus aiming to empower the architecture community through her voice.