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Technoplex, changes the way we work

How should we plan the office space?

In her book, ‘Happy,’ the stylist, and design consultant Amanda Talbot emphasized the importance of the space as a canvas to draw our lives on, which can also play a vital role in the corporate workspace. Most office workers spend more than 8 hours a day stuck in the office. The psychological and physical environment they experience is directly related to the performance and vision of the company brand.

In May 2020, Hankook Tire established a new corporate building, Technoplex. Located in Pangyo, the Silicon Valley of Korea, it has six underground floors and ten aboveground floors. Following this innovative vision, the physical space created in Technoplex represents the culture and brand identity shared by the corporation and its employees. The foundation of Technoplex was the "way we work." The way the employees work is closely related to the products they research and develop, which have become the foundation for the advancement of the brand and innovation.

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“Mr. Cho Hyun-bum, then the president of Hankook Tire, had a powerful vision of changing the way in which a company works, one that was quite refreshing, and subsequently has had a positive effect on the staff of today. We've received feedback that the staff do feel that they are becoming part of the vision, which I think is highly important.”

Iwan Jones, Foster+Partners

The basic framework of Technoplex

“Proactive Culture”

What kind of work method does Hankook Tire pursue? First, let's talk about the proactive nature of Hankook Tire's corporate culture. The proactive culture means a culture in which highly competent and talented members of the organization take ownership of their work and lead in innovative ways.

Hankook Tire actively incorporated ideas from its employees in the Technoplex design, and the common desire was a comfortable space that generates flexible thinking and accessible communication. The employees believe that a comfortable and relaxed environment establishes a proactive culture, strengthening both the brand value and competitiveness.

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“Visual Connectivity”

Hankook Tire focused on visual connectivity, which you can immediately feel as soon as you step inside the building. The atrium, with escalators connecting the first-floor lobby to an open space on the third floor, revealing the ceiling of the building. Leaving this large space vacant was an innovative attempt at space utilization and cost management. Generally, each floor of an office space is separated. However, the atrium at Technoplex visually connects all floors and areas of the building. This creates a deeper connection to everything inside the building, creating a sense of unity and belonging.

The lighting artwork "Oculus," the work of the British Jason Bruges Studio, surrounds the escalator connecting the first and third floors. Inspired by the light shining through tree leaves, Oculus changes its color every season, allowing a sense of nature to spread throughout.

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  • The view from the 6th floor down to Oculus. Passing through Oculus creates a sense of entering a new world.

  • The view from the escalator looking towards the rooftop.

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An office space designed for the psychological and physical health of the users enables the maximum efficiency of the work process.

The walls of the conference rooms are transparent, and the windows do not have any curtains or blinds. The louvers on the external walls of the building control the sunlight. After 365 days of simulation, the louvers block direct sunlight and optimize the amount of natural light that emanates through. Ceiling lights also automatically change the illuminance and color temperature according to the time of day and season. By allowing the indoor and outdoor atmosphere to synchronize, the employees can feel more comfortable in the building.

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The translucent louvers, installed using an optimized pattern, let in an appropriate amount of light by measuring the insolation and the sun’s altitude throughout the year.

Flexible layout encourages communication and collaboration

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An open space without any purpose may hinder the original intention of promoting collaboration and communication by disrupting the focus of the employees.

Every floor has a canteen, which is a convenient space equipped with not only business machines such as printers but also refrigerators, coffee machines, and sinks. Sofas and tables are scattered around the canteens to ideally structure open spaces. When employees take water breaks and print their work, they are sure to visit the canteen. In doing so, more conversations and unexpected discussions can occur between the team members. When wishing to continue their discussions, employees can move to an open space adjacent to the canteen. This layout actively encourages greater communication among employees.

Interestingly, this layout is also physically flexible. Most of the building's corner walls, columns, and furniture form a curved structure. The round and soft spaces naturally contribute to forming psychological stability for the users.

A smart office that maximizes immersion

With the relocation, many infrastructures have also gone through a digital transformation. We created over 100 conference rooms to continue such innovative and collaborative work among the team members, regardless of the size of the group or format. We focused on making the conference rooms wireless. With a single click of a button, laptops can connect to the conference room system, allowing the participants to focus on the meeting without wasting time.

The idea room has the best ambient light and view in the building. The area is designed with contrasting spaces, including a floor-sitting area where you can relax, a space with a spotlight system that randomly selects people as the designated speakers, and another room with an integrated touch-enabled display that can easily display blueprints or design patterns. These spaces help with the creative idea generation and deep conversations.

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“Tire Workshop,” one of work-dedicated areas

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Focusing Rooms are the only rooms with frosted glass for its intended use.

Each floor has specialized workspaces and individual focus rooms. The Tire Workshop is a dedicated place for storing design patterns and treads. The space includes a 3-D printer that can be used when prototyping the tire patterns and immediately conducting simulations. There is also a Focusing Room where employees can take calls or focus on their work quietly.

Sincere considerations for an improved work-life balance

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  • Wellness center. Resident nurses can help with medication and first aid, and an inpatient room is also ready to use should employees need to rest. There’s a lactation room for nursing mothers.

Occasionally, circumstances outside of work act as factors that make it challenging to engage in work. Conversely, the well-balanced work-life balance of the members leads to the work stabilization.

Except for the lobby, the entire area from the first floor to the first underground floor of Technoplex is a dedicated space that only cares for its employees' psychological and physical stability. Its amenities (an in-house daycare, Bistro Fine (a cafeteria), a wellness center, a fitness center, bicycle storage, a shower room, and more) help employees in all different stages of life with different lifestyles, whether they have small children, are nursing, or are heads of a single household, to engage with work more comfortably.

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Deep contemplation on "how to work and in what space" and a clear and delicate physical realization have become a solid foundation for establishing a corporate vision and moving forward.

Lastly, a few parting comments on Hankook Technodome, a state-of-the-art research and development (R&D) facility. The keywords for Hankook Technodome, “cutting edge technology” and “accuracy without the slightest error,” shines through this flawless, white construction. On the contrary, Technoplex (Hankook Innovation Center) embodies the concept of “innovative, flexible and free thinking” and has a relaxed atmosphere with warmer tones throughout.

The fact that the concepts of these two buildings are distinctly different proves that Hankook Tire clearly understands the psychological and physical experience that the space gives to employees. Such a delicate yet firm understanding is the starting point for establishing and advancing the brand's vision. Hankook Tire plans to continue researching and refining the workplace to maximize creativity and innovation in the future.