Swiss Bureau has been working with the TECOM Group on a number of their projects, such as TECOM Auditorium, Management Offices and Foodcourt. Now with the completion of the Knowledge Park Common Areas, like entrances and hallways, we have delivered another inspiring space, one that was intended to appeal to the students and staff of TECOM Knowledge Park.
The concept for the three atriums is based on the tree of knowledge. A central tree stands majestically in the atrium under the skylight with bench seating encircling it. The back wall of the reception is an abstract interpretation and is constructed out of GRG and coated in a textured concrete paint. The tree bark rings mural is a custom designed wallpaper and the ring lights above the bench are supposed to mimic the idea of the tree rings.
The foremost criteria in designing a public space like this, used predominantly by teenage college goers and young professionals, was to use materials that were durable and not easily stained or damaged. Durable porcelain tiles sourced locally have a realistic texture, making it appear almost like a raw concrete surface. This is complemented by a warmer travertine texture in the atrium areas and a wood effect porcelain tile in the corridors. To keep project costs within budget and keeping in mind that this design would be rolled out to 18 other buildings, different paint textures are used to create interesting variations in the walls.
Planning the space well was critical to the design, as thousands of people walk through this space on any given day. Previously the atrium space was largely empty with some dated furniture and was only used as a transit space. To bring about a cultural change, a centralized seating was introduced. In the main atrium this seating is located around the tree and is a key design feature; in the other atriums, this is a customized seating unit. Clustered lounge seating has been added into either side of the atrium and this encourages people to spend time in this space. To bring in colour to space where most of the finishes are neutral, the lounge seating has accent colors of a soft green that is in tandem with the green tree in the centre.
Photo credits: Bahr Al-Alum Karim