Taking inspiration from the Japanese ‘zen garden’, this two-floor office uses subtle local elements and a nature-filled design to create an office that is a destination focused on employee well-being.

Inspired by the purposeful minimalist design of Zen Gardens, the office aims to create a place for collaboration and inspiration. Containing multiple references to traditional Japanese details and elements, from the traditional color palette with subdued tones, to bombori-style lighting, wooden-rib wall materials, and sho-ji door inspired planter details, the design provides a welcoming environment for staff and visitors.

Understanding the firm’s mission to save patients’ lives through the power of science, Gensler designed an office to increase employee engagement with this mission in mind. With collaboration as the basis for employee engagement, almost half of the office is devoted to collaboration spaces, facilitating engaging interactions between employees and enlivening each small neighborhood.

An example of this focus on collaboration is a two-story café space that can be repurposed for a number of alternative functions, such as townhall events, workshops, and learning events. The flexibility and agility create opportunities to experience the workplace environment based on activity, maximizing the usage for multiple purposes. A connecting stair allows access to two flexible work cafes on each floor with conference and open office areas, each with their own focus pods and casual collaboration.

A wandering path through huddle spaces establishes chance encounters, encouraging innovation and creativity. The design takes advantage of the 360-degree city views by placing informal work settings and open seating along the windows, providing a respite from the more enclosed areas closer to the building core. The open concept is ideal for teams to communicate and share ideas, allowing creativity to thrive.

Paved with white pebbles and set with stones, a small zen-inspired garden beneath the connecting stairs provides a focal point for reflection, bringing harmony between the activity of the workplace and the natural environment. Filling the space with subtle local elements, the hospitable, welcoming, nature-filled design is not only a place for work, but also focuses on mental well-being and balance.

The ubiquity of Zen Garden elements creates a sense of calmness and peace, supporting the health and well-being of all staff. Full-length windows allow for natural light to penetrate and fill the entire space, creating a warm and welcoming environment. The selection of natural finishes and materials adds an authentic aesthetic, while neutral and earth tones are used in an understated way to create a soothing and immersive sensibility. The emphasis on greenery encourages the connection between humans and nature, enhancing productivity, mental health, air quality, lowering stress levels, and spurring creativity.

Designed with purpose, the new office aligns the inspiration of a Zen Garden with the company’s vision. It places people at the focus of the design, exemplified by the multiple humanistic design elements throughout the space, creating an environment that supports productivity, efficiency, and collaboration.

Project: Confidential Pharmaceutical Company
Location: Japan
Design Studio: Gensler
Photo Credit: Nacasa & Partners
Website: gensler.com