Warner Music Hong Kong 2.0
“An objective we successfully achieved in this project was articulating various acoustic solutions for this music-filled workplace and allowing it to be agile and flexible.”
- Lorène Faure, co-founder of Bean Buro
“The mood & feel concept was to create a higher sense of hospitality, well-being, and collaboration ability via state-of-the-art acoustic and IT solutions for a high degree of agility and a variety of work settings.”
- Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui, co-founder of Bean Buro
The Brief: An evolved workplace for an advanced company
Warner Music has returned to Bean Buro to design a new office for their growing team in Hong Kong, as the team has doubled in size since Bean Buro’s first workplace design project for them in 2016. The new workplace is substantially larger, moving into one of the new office buildings in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, which overlooks what used to be the Hong Kong International Airport in Kai Tak.
This workplace would be the third design evolution that builds on previous successes: The first Hong Kong workplace that we had designed was a breakthrough in transforming its previous traditional office. It was a drastic transformation with new workplace strategies, such as creating eventful multifunctional spaces, semi-formal collaboration spaces, and artist rooms with music sampling and demo performances to happen in the workplace. Our second project was for Warner Music Beijing’s workplace, which borrowed much of Hong Kong’s strategies. Still, we took it one step further with a heightened sophistication in material finishes and colours to create a higher user engagement.
For the third incarnation, we were tasked with the new challenge of reaching an even higher level of articulation and further promoting the dynamic activities within Warner Music Hong Kong. The new workplace contains the previous designs’ DNA, such as a multifunctional welcoming reception for events, with a clear line of sight to the city skyline in the backdrop. A large LED wall, a raised platform, a DJ booth, and movable lounge furniture allow the space to be used as a performance event space. At the same time, we would satisfy the company’s desire to reach for a higher level of sophistication through the workplace’s design.
The Narrative: A ‘music box’ as an energetic and sociable design for dynamic working We were inspired by the idea of the large volume within the large floor plate representing a “music box” that contains all the collaboration functions with flexible spaces. The music box would contain various spaces, including the boardroom and a game room with a pool table, which can be opened by operable glass partitions facing a long window that leads to a pantry with café booths around the back of the volume.The volume is located near but offset from the facade to create a light-filled interstitial space with cafe furniture to allow people to relax and work in a social setting. The main front of the music box would face the reception and form the performance stage setting to stimulate exciting and dynamic events around the volume.
The Process: Rigorous prototyping ensuring desired results
The muted teal volume is interpreted as a robust, solid, small building, and we have explored a unique slatted detail for its outer walls to break down the large structure visually. We have also recessed the company’s logo into these fine slats, and the shape of the logo is also lined in fabric—inspired by a musical instrument carrying case. To find the right design for the slats, we carried out many small-scale mock-ups and one-to-one prototyping.
The Solution: A vibrant, sociable and multifunctional setting
To preserve the DNA of the previous Warner Music workplaces that we have designed, we kept certain elements consistent: not having a formal reception, but rather a very open lounge with a multifunctional performance stage, LED wall, and guest dry pantry with beer taps and wine fridges, to allow visitors and artists to enter the workplace and engage with the employees.
We collaborated with a local Japanese artist, TAKA, to create a mural art wall adjacent to the LED wall, creating a dialogue with the post-industrial context and a vibrant backdrop for the social area. In combination with the open ceiling, the artwork responds to the context of the site location by highlighting the post-industrial quality of Kowloon Bay.The music box volume is located in the heart of the U-shaped floor plate with two neighbourhoods on either end. Each neighbourhood is equipped with a wide variety of work settings such as collaboration areas, small meeting rooms, in-wall cafe seats, lounges, and phone booths. The other side of the green volume provides the main pantry with all the appliances integrated into the outer wall of the volume, immediately accessible by the diner booths.
The senior departmental heads are part of the neighbourhood and are roofed with different timber ceilings. The Materials: Bespoke elements and zoning through colours We celebrated the joy of music through a palette of colourful materials, such as muted teal colour timber slats for the outer walls of the volume and a green terrazzo skirting forming the platforms of the performing stage and entrances into the boardrooms. Each meeting room has a different coloured concept, expressed through the choice of acoustic fabric wall panels, wall coverings and loose furniture colours.
We created a large bespoke curvy rug carpet in an orange tan gradient effect to stimulate energy for the social area. It is paired with the backdrop of a metallic hospitality dry pantry bar. Another curvy rug is in the recording studio with a reflective shape in the ceiling that functions as a 3D ceiling acoustic panel. To ground the colours, we have a mature tan leather for the bespoke seating in the pantry and collaboration areas in the neighbourhoods to convey a high end, luxurious atmosphere.
Lighting/Acoustics: Importance of innovative acoustic solutions for productivity
We explored several innovative acoustic solutions for this project, such as 3D acoustic panels for all the walls in meeting areas and acoustic ceiling panels for some enclosed meeting lounges. We created a bespoke curvy ceiling panel for the recording studio, which scatters sound by the undulating fabric under the wavy structure. It also has small LED lights integrated to create a starry effect, as the recording studio is designed with various indirect lighting to establish a comfortable space to allow the artists to relax while they record. We devised an inverted fluting detail for the timber walls to scatter and absorb sound within the recording studio, reducing reverberation throughout the room.
We worked with a specialist acoustic consultant to ensure all the partitioning provides high-performance acoustic separation between all the different zones for either focused working or noisier activities—something essential for a workplace of this nature, where the employees are always demoing music. Copious amounts of vegetation have been planted across the workplace to improve well-being as biophilic elements. We also ensured all employees would have good access to natural daylight and views. We created small artificial skylights above some of the collaboration areas that would otherwise be shaded due to being farther in the floor plate to create an airier feel. We specified high grade environmentally friendly products wherever possible, such as a carpet made from recycled fishnets, which we used for the offices, and acoustic panels also made from recycled materials.
The Challenge: Creating a sociable yet sociable environment
A challenge of the project was stimulating the right amount of energy to promote a highly sociable workplace where employees could interact with each other while also being suitable as a creative place for music artists to express themselves through music. Overstimulation would not be appropriate for the productivity of some of the departmental staff. Therefore, this project has a very articulated use of natural materials such as timber, leather, and neutral-coloured fabrics to create a sense of peacefulness and calmness in some of the work settings.
Establishing the right acoustic solution is essential for this music-driven workplace and many other workplaces today, where sociable working is highly encouraged while still creating comfortable and calming spaces for focused working. The flexibility to create such workspaces is ever more critical where there is a much more extensive range of physical activities in this post-COVID world.
Bean Buro team: Lorène Faure, Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui, Kirk Kwok, Anny Teng, Jay Jordan, Linda Sze-To,
Client: Warner Music Hong Kong
Main contractor: Hing Lung Contracting Limited
Acoustic Consultant: Marshall Day Acoustics
MEP Consultant: Pentac Engineering Limited
Lighting Consultant: Lighting Plus Limited
AV Consultant: Arcon System Limited
Mural artist: TAKA
Mural consultant: Current Projects
Security Consultant: Integrated Corporation
Location: Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong