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10/05/2017 - 18:08hs

Ruy Ohtake explains Arab Chamber design

The architect delivered a lecture to the staff and C-level executives regarding the work he did for the organization’s new headquarters.

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Mashrabiya on the left, auditorium in the center and artwork area in the back

São Paulo – Architect Ruy Ohtake gave a presentation this Wednesday (10) to board members and staff at the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce on how he designed the organization’s new headquarters. The office space, set over two floors of Edifício Santa Catarina, a building on the corner of Paulista Avenue and Teixeira da Silva street in São Paulo, opened two weeks ago. The building itself is also of Ohtake’s design.

Located on the 11th floor are an auditorium, presidential room, board executives and meeting rooms, a praying room, an events facility, and a library. The architect planned the corridor-free space around the central, round-shaped auditorium whose outer walls double up as museum-like stands where Arab culture-related items are on display. The lighting highlights the artwork, as well as the circulation areas.

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Light paneling in the lift lobby

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A detail of the prayer room with a niche pointing the way to Mecca

After entering the space, visitors can circle the auditorium as they pass by all of the floor’s facilities. Ohtake explained the work he did for the praying room, at the back of which there is a backlit translucent stone pointing towards Mecca. “It is a very interesting, strong composition,” he said.

He also noted the Arab elements featured elsewhere. The partitions that separate the reception from the other areas are reminiscent of mashrabiya, the cutaway wood latticework featured in balconies in traditional Arab architecture which allows those inside to see what happens outside, while preventing those on the outside from seeing what takes place inside.

For the auditorium’s inner walls, the architect created a geometrical decoration that harks back to Arab motifs. For the lift lobby, Ohtake designed a pattern of small red circles set over a light-colored resin surface installed over the ceiling lighting, creating what he described as “light paneling.” “No fixtures are needed, because the paneling itself is lit,” he explained. The idea is to “create an impact” as soon as the visitor walks in.

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Each room has a different-colored wall

On the 10th floor, a rectangle-shaped area with rounded corners and matte glass walls encompasses ANBA, the Certification Department and meeting rooms. Around this area are the organization’s remaining departments and facilities.

Colors are featured prominently in the new headquarters; in each room, at least one wall is painted a unique color. “The whole set yields an interesting color palette, despite the unusual combinations,” the architect pointed out.

The office space was designed to make the most of the building’s vast free-span. Ohtake also designed the building; here, he relied on four pillars instead of eight, thereby creating lots of free space. “This makes it possible to create any number of layouts,” he asserted.

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View of operational area

During the lecture, Ohtake stressed the importance of creativity and intuition, of “taking a step forward” for an architect. “History will teach you, but it’s up to you to actually do it,” he said.

Ohtake also discussed where he drew inspiration for his reliance on curves from: Aleijadinho’s prophet statues in Congonhas do Campo, Minas Gerais, and the work of his deceased friend Oscar Niemeyer.

The architect was introduced to staff members by Arab Brazilian Chamber president Rubens Hannun, who opened the new headquarters. Also participating in the event was former Arab Brazilian Chamber president Marcelo Sallum, during whose administration the work for the new headquarters began.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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