Duabi design studio Roar has completed the new Middle Eastern headquarters of leading Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda in head-turning and thought-provoking style. Located in Dubai’s One Central business district, the 23,000 sq ft office blends traditional Japanese aesthetics with striking contemporary design informed by data-driven efficiency. The result is a sleek blend of form and purpose.
“Takeda wanted us to design an office that rivalled their new HQ in Tokyo,” explains Roar’s founder and creative director, Pallavi Dean. “We felt it was important to draw inspiration from the company’s Japanese heritage while also celebrating the local context in order to give the project a sense of place – this is most definitely Takeda in Dubai, not Tokyo!”
The space is designed around three themes – Japanese values, Emirati culture and data-driven design. The interiors evoke key principles of Japanese design philosophy channeling a restrained architectural language with shoji screen geometry and textured materials such as wood, raw concrete and paper. The boardroom echoes the layout of a Japanese tea house while the reception area references a genkan, the traditional entrance of a Japanese home.
Various Emirati design elements have also been incorporated into the scheme, including a series of artworks by designer Khalid Shafar. Made using khoos – a palm leaf weaving technique that was traditionally applied to build house roofs and floor mats – the dried palm leaves are cut and washed before being woven. “This ancient Emirati craft is similar to the Japanese tatami method, but while the Japanese use rice straw, Emiratis use palm tree leaves,” Dean explains. “We like this subtle synergy in crafts between the two cultures.”
Melding beauty with the practicality, the project is LEED silver certified and the Roar design team collaborated with Herman Miller’s workspace specialists on Space Allocation Modelling (SAM Analysis) in a bid to maximise the floor layouts. 35% of the office is devoted to ‘hive’ zones for individual work; 29% to ‘meeting’ spaces; and 13% to ‘breakout’ areas for informal social interactions. Another key element of the design is the inclusion of biophilic principles.
“Humans have an inherent need to be in contact with nature,” adds Dean. “Daylight reduces fatigue; greenery reduces drowsiness; Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory, or ART, proposes that exposure to nature is not only enjoyable, but can also improve focus and concentration. In view of the recent pandemic, which reminded us of our far too distant relationship with nature, I believe this is something that will become a must in most interior design projects.”