The Wondfo Shenzhou Road Campus is an expansion of the headquarters of Wondfo, a company based in Guangzhou, China, specializing in medical diagnostic products. The project aims to achieve 3.0 FAR (floor area ratio) on a lot size of 14,290 square meters. The expansion was necessary to accommodate the company’s growing workforce and operations. When Atelier L was brought on board to oversee the project, the general master plan and building massing had already been set according to the programmatic requirements.
Wondfo Shenzhou Road Campus Technical Information
- Architects: Atelier L
- Location: Guangzhou, China
- Client: Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech Co., Ltd.
- Topics: Brick in Architecture, Office Buildings
- Area: 60,008 m2 | 645,920 ft2
- Project Year: 2018 – 2022
- Photographs: © Chao Zhang
The façade of the buildings was designed to be reminiscent of Guangzhou Qilou, a style of architecture characterized by covered walkways. The buildings are connected by a series of loggias that provide shelter from the wind and rain and shade from the sun.
– Atelier L Architects
Wondfo Shenzhou Road Campus Photographs
1. Locus and Stones
The Wondfo Shenzhou Road Campus site used to be a quarry, and many boulders were discovered during the foundation excavation. To preserve the “memory” of the site, Atelier L decided to collect some of the stones and incorporate them into the design. The stones were stored temporarily next to the site and were used as feature elements for the gardens, in keeping with the “genius loci” (spirit of the place) of the old garden-style campus.
2. Façade and Enclosure
The façade of the buildings was designed to be reminiscent of Guangzhou Qilou, a style of architecture characterized by covered walkways. The buildings are connected by a series of loggias that provide shelter from the wind and rain and shade from the sun. The façade is composed of a series of eaves that run horizontally across the buildings, which helps to soften the visual impact of the 60-meter-tall volume. The color of the brick tiles was custom-made to a matte beige that changes subtly with the lighting environment. An exhibition hall was added to the campus entrance, which completes the U-shaped layout and provides a clear interface with the surrounding campus.
3. Pedestal and Plaza
In addition to the facade design and spatial reorganization, our landscape design was also a key part of the process. To meet the needs of fire trucks and service circulation, we created an integrated driveway system around the entire campus that defines the central plaza. By raising the ground floor for all buildings and placing gradually elevated landscape walls, we not only avoided flooding risks but also provided a unique visiting experience compared to other campuses in the neighborhood. Marble walls of varying heights and lengths enclose the campus while guiding visitors without being noticed. The open ground floor plaza anchors the scattered buildings, offering the campus a cohesive and elegant feel.
The quarry on the site is an essential “memory” of the location. After planning with the new program, previously reserved stones were returned to the site and placed ingeniously in several landscape scenarios. We believe this approach awakens the “locus” of the place, revealing the past with the present. A more than ten-year-old frangipani transplanted from the old campus is located in the sunken garden, passing on traditions from the old campus to the new one. The ground-floor sunken garden and fifth-floor terrace garden are the two main courtyards, one quiet and the other lively.
The sunken garden has three different height levels, with a water fountain and channel creating a tranquil and peaceful environment. A visual corridor is linked across the axis between the sunken garden, lobby, and exhibition hall. The terrace garden on the fifth floor surrounds the crape myrtle, divided into three platforms, creating a scenic backdrop for the tea room on the east side. People can mingle through the landscape walls while shifting their attention from the surroundings to the greens. The pace gradually slows down through steps and height differences, leading visitors to the tea room through wooden fencing. Streetlights are embedded within the plaza’s paving along the axis.
4. Loggia and Boundary
The loggia connecting the podium and the exhibition hall serves as both a part of the facade and an extension of the plaza, creating a buffer zone that balances different scales of elements while blurring the boundary between indoor and outdoor. The deployment of the loggia enhances the promenade experience while also offering the possibility for future expansion. We wanted the facade to be sculpted by shadows, and the loggia helps to ventilate and fine-tune the buildings’ microclimate. We created a unified color and material palette to arrange the texture and tone from exterior to interior, creating an effortless atmosphere.
Due to different programmatic usages, the main lobby is divided into two halls, the east hall and the west hall. The axis passes through the sunken outdoor garden, forming a visual corridor with the exhibition hall. For the interior public areas, a stepped multifunctional hall on the top floor of the podium is equipped with bi-fold doors, allowing the seating capacity to be adjusted for different numbers of people. By removing redundant columns, we achieved a large span of 18.5 meters, maximizing the interaction between the stage and the audience. The tea room adjacent to the terrace garden also blurs the boundary between interior and exterior, with the full span of bi-fold doors allowing visitors to merge with the outdoors. Under good weather, it accommodates various ways of living, dining, and enjoying the scenery.
In the recently completed exhibition hall, we paid particular attention to the original skylight and windows, adjusting to accommodate different exhibition needs and lighting environments. The visiting sequence links back to the loggia, facing the sunken garden. We imagined the exhibition hall as a place where the relationship between products, people, and nature is celebrated.
5. Arrival and Departure
The project commenced in 2018 and, despite encountering various challenges along the way, was ultimately completed and put into use in November 2022. While the project was primarily designed for manufacturing purposes, where efficiency is of the utmost importance, the integration of loggias and courtyards creates a slow architecture that prioritizes a better working environment. Although some details will still be adjusted after occupancy, the passage of time, the growth of plants, and the traces of usage will enrich the campus fabric.
It was not until one afternoon that we witnessed the birds resting in the plaza, and our original vision for the atmosphere was finally fulfilled. A year ago, upon completing the project, we were fortunate to receive a letter from one of the new employees sharing his happiness with his family about the impression and working experience on this new campus. This project represents our first built project involving architecture, landscape, and interior design and marks the beginning of our long journey.
Wondfo Shenzhou Road Campus Plans
Wondfo Shenzhou Road Campus Image Gallery
About Atelier L
Atelier L, founded in 2019 by Dake Li and Nan Lei, is an architecture practice based in New York with a presence in both China and the United States. Their portfolio includes architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, art installations, and furniture design. Atelier L values every detail and deeply engages in the design process from concept to construction.
Works from Atelier L
- Lead Design Team: Dake Li, Nan Lei
- Interior Architects: Atelier L + KSD
- Landscape Architects: Atelier L + Guangzhou Yuekai Landscaping Co., Ltd
- Exhibition Hall Design: Atelier L + Zhongzhuang Construction