The look of Masan's new Singapore office seems to shimmer and change right before one's eyes, reflecting both the company's focus on the future and their heritage
In some respects, this workplace - the first international office of Masan, a Vietnam-based holding company - seems more dreamscape than workscape. But get beyond the initial surreal impressions and a solid logic emerges. This office is all about connection - to a way of working, to people, and to the soul of the company itself.
An unusual brief
Masan, whose interests lie in banking, mining and food, conceived of their Singapore office partly to bring Masan to the world, and partly to bring the world to them. As well as serving as a showcase to a world still generally unfamiliar with their brand, the office would be a first point of contact for individuals aspiring to join this vigorously young and unconventional firm.
With Masan's operations becoming increasingly international, the office would also be a convenient base for the CEO and partners. This necessitated the inclusion of a conference room and two smaller meeting spaces in the design. Other functional necessities in the brief were an open-plan work space for approximately 10 staff, and a small number of enclosed offices.
The site selected was a 5,033 sq-ft, level 5 space in OUE Bayfront, located in Singapore's prestigious Marina Bay. M Moser Associates was selected to create the design, and began the process with an intensive collaboration with Masan to discover in detail how its people worked, and the essence of the company's background.
Impressions in depth
The finished design makes its impression the moment one steps out of the lift. The reception area is expansive, with two-thirds of its area covered by a shimmering water feature. Masan logos evocatively break the water's surface like stepping stones.
Also floating on the water feature is the conference room, a simple transparent glass-encased space atop a timber 'raft'. The water feature - as well as the office's outside view over the bay refer directly to Masan's origins in Ho Chi Minh City along the Mekong River. Here, the design's painstaking attention to detail and finish is at its most impressive: to make a near-seamless transition between floor and water, just 3mm separates the two elements.
The same origins are literally just below the surface everywhere in this otherwise contemporary, sharply-defined environment. Structural columns throughout the space feature 'peeled back' sections inset with relief panels with patterns echoing the geometry of the company logo. As well as providing a constant reminder of the firm's heritage, they add a touch of textural contrast to the office's balanced palette of neutral wood, stone and transparent glass.