Warner Music, Hong Kong


Hong Kong, China
Warner Music Group
Year of completion:
1,486 m²
Collaboration & Communication
Concentration & Focus
Innovation Space

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 BB 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, they took it one step further with a heightened sophistication in material finishes and colours to create a higher user engagement.

For the third incarnation, BB was 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, BB 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
Bean Buro was 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 BB have explored a unique slatted detail for its outer walls to break down the large structure visually. They 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, they 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 BB has designed, they 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.

They 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
BB 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.

They 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, they 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
Bean Buro 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. They 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. They devised an inverted fluting detail for the timber walls to scatter and absorb sound within the recording studio, reducing reverberation throughout the room.

They 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. They also ensured all employees would have good access to natural daylight and views. They 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.

BB specified high grade environmentally friendly products wherever possible, such as a carpet made from recycled fishnets, which they 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.