It’s no secret that contemporary office design is getting better by the minute. Case in point, Bean Buro’s ‘Green Oasis’ space for Hong Kong-based health insurance firm Cigna. Located in the bustling heart of Causeway Bay, the brief was to create an office which prioritizes open collaboration and staff well-being. Let’s see how they got on.
“Bean Buro developed a narrative inspired by Christo’s ‘Gentle Disturbance’, where the artist uses color to highlight scenery elements otherwise often underappreciated by the viewer.”
Contemporary Office Design with Bean Buro
Inspired By Art
Featuring personal work spaces, enclosed meeting rooms and collaboration zones, there’s lots to love about this 8,576 square ft. office. Balancing practicality with style, ‘Green Oasis’ takes inspiration from art and architecture. In particular, the landscape interventions of Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
The art duo were especially famous for their outdoor installations, which include wrapping the perimeter of an island in bright fabric. “We interpreted the idea of islands as a desirable ‘oasis’,” explain the designers. “A legible green sculptural backdrop ties the whole open plan together, while ‘colored bays’ emerge to create social zones, such as the reception, pantry and break out spaces.”
“Comparable to Christo’s island, the layout orientated around a central spline of enclosed meeting rooms (the island) and a perimeter strip of open space (Christo’s ‘Gentle Disturbance’).”
“The juxtaposition of various spaces was enhanced by the material selection,” shares Bean Buro Co-Founder Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui. Taking cues from Hong Kong’s vibrant scenery, the materials featured in the open plan space are soft, natural and calm. Think shades of muted green, pastel fabrics and a carpet inspired by pebble paths.
“In contrast,” adds fellow Co-Founder Lorène Faure, “the social spaces introduce wooden finishes and pops of accented colors.” This helps to create an energetic and positive ambiance.
Health is Wealth
As to be expected for a health insurance organization, staff well-being was an integral requirement of the design. “It was a subtle translation into the design in terms of air, water and light qualities, relaxation spaces, and also a very tasteful design palette that feels natural, calming and comfortable, without the need for gimmicks (e.g. slides, mini-golf, etc) that have become overly generic in the office design trends,” reveals the design team.
Counting The Cost
Reflecting on the difficulties of this project, the team immediately reference money matters; “the most difficult challenge isn’t entirely about the technical solutions, but also about the cost affordability, and most importantly, managing an un-compromised design aesthetic.”
“The project underwent value engineering to lower construction costs, but we were able to preserve most of the functions as well as the mood and feel. We had originally proposed more timber finishes in the general walls. However, they were eventually replaced with a muted green paint finish. This was more cost efficient and provided a younger and fresher feel to the environment.”
An open plan layout is the hallmark of a contemporary office space, but what happens when it comes to noise issues? “There are many ways to deal with acoustic concerns in a workplace,” acknowledges the team.
“It’s about how we articulate higher background noise in open and semi-open [spaces] to promote social interactions, while controlling the sound separation through different wall and ceiling construction techniques. Sound absorption materials and acoustic products are also carefully integrated in the design to reduce reverberations.”
“The legibility of these social spaces encourages collaboration to boost productivity as well as staff well being.”
Design-wise, Bean Buro’s vision is hard to fault. While the client expressed concern about the overly green color scheme, the response to the finished space has been overwhelmingly positive. Overall, the new space successfully walks the line between function and aesthetic. Employers take note – this is how to achieve office goals.