800 employees, 5,700 m2, one space: how Bean Buro developed a flexible headquarters for L’Oreal

Hong Kong – How do you connect 800 employees spanning various departments under one roof? It’s a question personal care company L’Oréal posed to Bean Buro, for its 5,700-m2 Asia Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong. The studio was asked to explore a variety of innovative workspace solutions to promote wellbeing and flexibility for L’Oréal's employees. To do so, they referred to the urban environment of the company’s native Paris and communal function of traditional Chinese gardens, effectively creating an engaging workplace that simultaneously honours L’Oréal’s global sustainability guidelines.

‘We were inspired by the sociable and transient street cafes of Paris,’ says Bean Buro founding director Lorène Faure of L’Oréal's hometown. ‘Parisians gather at the thresholds between inside and outside – to see and be seen. The urban narrative became a metaphor for this highly collaborative workplace.’ Furthermore, they took inspiration from the ability of Chinese gardens to link neighbourhoods harmoniously, having ‘various circulation cloisters with timber ceilings and slatted screen walls as architectural devices to differentiate public and private space’. This cultural exchange formed the basis of the design concept for the five-floor headquarters.

The new L’Oréal Asia Pacific base occupies an existing office building at the Harbour Front of Hong Kong Island. Bean Buro utilized a central internal staircase as a connective foundation for the headquarters’ shared spaces – social areas, meeting rooms and departmental ‘neighbourhoods’ on each floor are arranged around it. A continuous timber wall and ceiling encloses the open collaboration spaces and meeting rooms which are fitted with modular furniture. Cushioned seats are installed at the windowsills, providing places for relaxation or one-on-one conversations. Wayfinding helps intuitively guide users from department to department.

Bean Buro used natural, neutral materials throughout the space, like timber and terrazzo stone tiles. Muted green and pinks help distinguish the different social function of each area and are complemented by brass detailing and warmly hued textiles. The lighting and acoustics were implemented with attention to the environment – the project’s sustainability strategies also entailed eco-friendly material specification and waste management.


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