Airbnb’s biggest rival in China, Xiaozhu, just opened their latest office in Beijing, a diverse and flexible work environment that bears similarities to an Ikea showroom. The office space, called Sliced House, is the work of People’s Architecture Office (PAO) and People’s Industrial Design Office (PIDO), and is largely inspired by the diversity of the home-sharing startup’s online listings. The office’s collection of domestic spaces creates a casual and playful setting that fosters spontaneous interactions.
PAO credits Xiaozhu’s need for a flexible work environment to the startup’s rapid growth—the five-year-old startup is valued at over $300 million and could possibly be bought out by AirBnB in the near future. The office is mostly open plan but also includes private meeting rooms, a conference room, and lounge. Most of the workspaces can be rearranged into different configurations, from the jigsaw-like worktables that can break away into individual desks to the conference room that uses room dividers to transform one long conference table to three smaller tables in separate rooms. The fixed meeting rooms are built to look like cozy living rooms and kitchens.
“Sliced House is conceived as a house that has been divided and its parts dispersed throughout an otherwise banal office interior,” write the architects. “Shared interior finishes between split spaces make apparent that adjacent portions refer to a single room. These sliced samples of domesticity include kitchen, living room, and bedroom and double as ad hoc meeting areas. Such spaces reflect Xiaozhu’s rental offerings, providing users with a wide spectrum of settings to choose from.” PIDO custom built the transforming furniture, which include workspaces and a mobile trishaw-like meeting area made from converted tricycles. This wheeled workspaces were inspired by Xiaozhu’s Tricycle House listing and the tricycle’s long history in China.