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The Hospitable Workplace

The Great Room marks the first co-working space in Singapore for international design practice HASSELL, combining the emotional appeal of a convivial environment with the productivity of a workplace. Stephanie Peh writes.

The Great Room


BY Janice Seow

July 14th, 2016


Top: Drawing Room, The Great Room

Needless to say, the co-working typology brings about the gathering of multiple professions, facilitating encounters and unexpected collaborations amongst individuals from diverse fields. Taking it to the next level, The Great Room is a new co-working space that aims to change the way people feel about going to work. It sets itself apart with a hospitality-driven approach that offers a fresh perspective on the co-working environment.

The Great ROom
Drawing Room, The Great Room

Conveniently situated within the One George Street building in the heart of the CBD, the 15,000-square-foot space was designed by Distillery Studio – appointed just before its merger with multidisciplinary, international design practice HASSELL. The client picked Distillery Studio for its vast experience in hospitality design, with the practice having completed projects such as The Club Hotel and the Manhattan Bar at Regent Hotel.

Jaelle Ang, the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Great Room, perceives the merger between Distillery Studio and HASSELL as serendipitous. It enabled The Great Room to be beautifully designed with Distillery Studio’s hospitality sensitivities, while possessing the efficiency of a professional environment backed by the vast experience of HASSELL in workplace design.

The Great Room Hassell Distillery
Hot Office, The Great Room

The Great Room appeals to a mixed clientele, be it entrepreneurs or freelancers hailing from the technology, creative or finance industries. Solo workers may opt for hot desking, while teams of two to 20 may reside within dedicated offices. The Great Room has also pioneered the ‘hot office’ concept, which are private rooms on demand for one to four people.

“The co-working environment creates real opportunity for cross-collaboration and knowledge sharing, it is all about deliberate collisions and serendipitous moments, a ‘bump’ leads to a new venture, idea or adventure,” says Matthew Shang, Principal at HASSELL (who is also the co-founder of Distillery Studio). Shared spaces include the Studio (meeting room), The Drawing Room (lobby), State Room (boardroom) and insulated Phone Booths for making phone calls.

The Great Room Hassell Distillery
State Room, The Great Room

The combination of private rooms, semi-private zones and social spaces enable casual and open encounters. Shang saw The Great Room as a “home office in a large community.” Through constant dialogue with the clients, the design team developed a hybrid of the working and domestic environment, aesthetically and functionally.

“Physiological comfort plays a large part in this,” says Shang, referring to the soothing palette and bespoke furniture pieces, which came together to create a non-intimidating environment. The design process was a continuous search for emotional experiences that were often found in hospitality type spaces.

The Great Room Hassell Distillery
Lounge, The Great Room

The ‘new corporate neutral’ palette, as coined by the team, includes blue shades, tobaccos and camels, and imparts professionalism to the space whilst maintaining a sense of warmth. Materials such as timber and brass detailing on the desks or luxurious leather on the sofa, contribute to the creation of a timeless space.

The floor plate was planned around a virtual street experience, with emphasis on creating the ultimate first impression, inspired by the feeling of walking into a hotel with a grand lobby that elevates one’s mood immediately. The Great Room welcomes all who walk through its premises with a generous view of the Hong Lim Park District and CBD, creating a sense of connection to the city and beyond. When moving around The Great Room, users and visitors will discover informal pockets of spaces and lounge areas.

The Great Room Hassell Distillery
Private Office, The Great Room

Throughout the space, bespoke furniture pieces – created in collaboration with furniture manufacturer Hemisphere – recall the spatial intimacy of luxury hotels and the meticulous detailing of professional environments. Customised products from the existing Hemisphere range sit next to custom-made furniture pieces.

Over 30 art pieces from paintings to photography created by Singapore-based artists – and curated by The Artling – fill the space. Designed in collaboration with Project Lighting Design (PLD), lighting design was also an important component. Instead of filling the space with ‘corporate’ lighting, the team boldly opted for a balance between domestic touches and natural illumination.

The Great Room Hassell Distillery
Bar, The Great Room

“The best performers are those measured by the value they bring in and this value is no longer created by sitting for 40 hours in front of the desktop. Often, it is meeting the right people, [and] having the right conversations and a highly creative output,” Ang concludes.

For a more in-depth coverage of The Great Room, lookout for the upcoming issue of Cubes Indesign (Issue 82).

HASSELL
hassellstudio.com