The new headquarters of Yangtze Optical Fibre and Cable Joint Stock Limited Company (“YOFC”) in Wuhan is a high-tech beacon to connect, collaborate, and communicate and a manifestation of the company’s success as the world’s biggest optical fiber manufacturer.
Taking a cue from optical fiber technology – where the information transmits to make connections – the space is designed around how people move, maximizing the opportunities to connect. With five wings intersecting around an atrium, the unique building shape symbolizes optical fiber, YOFC’s core product – reflecting the company’s heritage and culture, which reaches out to every corner of the globe. The arrival plaza, formed by the shape of the building, leads to the entrance as an inviting gesture at the center of the building. Without any columns underneath, the 18-meter cantilever is a visually striking element for the only entrance of the complex. The dynamic design of the space fosters a new collaborative culture of innovation with strong visual connections to the atrium.
The design for YOFC Headquarters connects five distinct areas into flexible work neighborhoods, centering around a seven-story atrium that fosters collaboration and encourages chance encounters. There is a spiral staircase connecting all floors, and it is a series of platforms where impromptu interactions can take place.
YOFC and the designers have made a big push for sustainability design interventions for the YOFC Headquarters as part of the initiatives to reach carbon-neutral targets. Gensler has innovated a “smart façade” for the building that responds to the surrounding environment and light conditions. Inspired by the Chinese tradition of lattice windows, Gensler’s modern interpretation adopts high-tech solutions to control the sunlight and heat coming through the façade with sensors and motors that control the louvers. The two-layer “smart façade” has a new design whereas the outer façade is made of two elements: the rotating louvers and the front layer of glass, which all combined have created a system that enables the building to optimize self-heating and self-cooling. It adapts to extreme weather – high temperature, sun exposure, and heavy rains while conserving energy and creating a more pleasant indoor environment for employees. The façade louvers are equipped with motors and can rotate by 90 degrees, following the sun’s position. Each rotatable louver is made of expanded metal mesh – providing transparency even when fully closed. Maintenance bridges are set up to support cleaning and repairs.
The “smart façade” brings in natural light and visibility to each wing, coupled with the latest technologies that optimize air quality and temperature. As part of its passive natural ventilation strategy, the team proposed an operable skylight to bring fresh air into the building, providing a sense of nature and connection to the outside.