Ching Fu is Taiwan’s largest private shipbuilder and is based in Kaohsiung, Tawian’s second largest city with a population of 1.5million.
By the early part of the 2000s, the company realised that operations of the Ching Fu group of companies was spread across too many different offices and that a new headquarter building was required to unite all the various activities of the group companies.
Ching Fu held a private design competition in early 2005 which was won by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (at the time, Richard Rogers Partnership).
The site for the new headquarter building is close to the edge of Kaohsiung Bay, separated from the water by an area of public realm. The brief called for a building which offers generous views across the harbour and which sits on a north/south axis to maximise frontage to the sea. The site of the Ching Fu Group Headquarters building is located in a new science and business park which is currently under development, and adjacent to a proposed exhibition centre. It is also close to Kaohsiung’s tallest tower, the 378 m high ’85 Skytower’, a mixed-used development which dominates Kaohsiung’s skyline.
The design is based on a series of repeated 8.5m x 8.5m orthogonal grids (nine along the length of the building, three across the width), with two cores located at either end of the structure.
The ground and first-floor levels incorporate the atrium as well as an exhibition/display area. An auditorium which seats approximately 100 people is also included on the ground level.
The remaining eight storeys contain company offices. Because of planning regulations relating to the massing of buildings, the upper three storeys (floors 8 – 10) have been set back from the façade. As a result, a large terrace has been provided for staff as recreational space on the 8th storey. This space is shaded by louvres which are incorporated into the design of the roof above.
An observation deck – for staff and visitor use – has been created along the southern side of the building above the louvres. This deck is served by lifts as well as by a spiral staircase. A smaller observation deck for restricted use has also been included on the northern side of the building.
One of the key features of the design of the Ching Fu building are the ‘boxes’, extensions of the office space at different levels which appear to float beyond the facades to provide meeting rooms and private office areas. Each ‘box’ has a small void space adjacent to it which helps to enhance and define the building’s appearance. The upper levels of each box are decked to provide external balconies.
The design needed to respond to a number of key local climate considerations. Kaohsiung is located along the Tropic of Cancer and is therefore subject to long hot summers as well as periods of intense monsoon activity. As a result, the roof is made up of louvres which serve to reduce heat gain on the building envelope and creating a distinctive finish to the building. The louvre fins are tilted perpendicular towards the south. A series of horizontal louvres at each level of the building’s façade also help to reduce heat gain. Louvres fitted to the south –west facing windows adjacent to the ‘box’ voids are designed to deliver reflected natural light into the office space.
Glazed lift shafts containing elevators which offer users panoramic views of the surrounding area – combined with glazed main stair shafts – serve to express the movement of people through the building. Exposed columns and large extractor funnels in vivid primary colours (red, blue and yellow) express the system of building elements and also – in part – acknowledge the corporate brand of the Ching Fu Group of companies.
The interiors of the building are by Tapei-based interior designers Rich Honor.