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“Stair of Encounters”: Neri&Hu designed staircase for Bloomberg Hong Kong Office

Staircase Bloomberg Hong Kong © Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
Staircase Bloomberg Hong Kong
© Neri&Hu Design and Research Office

To encourage their employees to interact more, the Shanghai based architecture studio Neri&Hu has designed a staircase for Bloomberg Hong Kong. The internal office stair is in part inspired by the mundane elements of space-making – windows, passages, staircases and thresholds.

The client’s brief was to design a staircase to connect the three different floors of Bloomgerg’s office with the explicit rule that this stair should to be used daily as the only vertical connection. Thus the employees should be guided almost by the complex as with a route and at the same time the interaction be encouraged.

Das Haus by Neri&Hu at imm cologne 2015 © Constantin Meyer, Koelnmesse
Das Haus by Neri&Hu at imm cologne 2015
© Constantin Meyer, Koelnmesse

The fact that the Shanghai architects Neri & Hu is well acquainted with such a guided tour of people have been known at least since they were guest of honor at The House at imm cologne 2015. Through the compressed architecture of their staging of a living situation winded a bridge, its path zig-zagging through and over “Das Haus”, intersecting the rooms at different points, breaking through walls and granting the visitor precisely calculated insights into the installations of living space.

Neri&Hu have designed a course and they have actually brought a whole new perspective to the “Das Haus – Interiors on Stage” series. Only the irregular window openings communicated the idea even from the outside that this structure contains more than just cool aesthetics – namely a synthesis of the arts of architecture, design, art and philosophy.

Staircase Bloomberg Hong Kong © Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
Staircase Bloomberg Hong Kong
© Neri&Hu Design and Research Office

A synthasis of art that is similar to a parcours should also be created when redesigning the stairs for the Bloomberg offices. And so the new staircase includes platforms, landings, built-in seating as well as breakthroughs and window frames echo what one may find in the extremes of Hong Kong’s natural landscape and urban terrain. Enclosed in a light ash wood massing, with exposed fine aggregate concrete treads and bronze metal railing accents, the staircase winds and turns to offer unexpected views – through windows, up double height cuts, down large voids and across to surrounding programs. Recessed Barrisol lighting was designed to mimic natural skylight cuts in the ceiling.

Staircase Bloomberg Hong Kong © Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
Staircase Bloomberg Hong Kong
© Neri&Hu Design and Research Office

Each of the three office levels is designed with different functions to accommodate a diverse set of vertical programs. The journey through the world of Bloomberg begins on the 25th floor reception, expressed as a carved niche. This level is designed to be the most extroverted in nature with a large event space stage for gatherings, built in benches on the perimeter as well as dedicated areas for small break-out group seating. The niche seating was also inspired in part by the break-out meeting pods that were displaced in the enlarged staircase scheme; rather than reinstating these as separate meeting spaces, we integrated functional seating and meeting areas into the architectural language of the staircase. Upon closer interaction with the millwork, hidden bespoke details are revealed to the user within these seating niches – small wood and bronze panels fold out to reveal charging ports, mirrors, and functional ledges where a cup of coffee or cell phone may be placed – unexpected details in support of the ordinary rituals of daily office life.

Staircase Bloomberg Hong Kong © Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
Staircase Bloomberg Hong Kong
© Neri&Hu Design and Research Office

Continuing up to the 26th floor, different views are framed along the circulation path. Given that the Bloomberg recording studio is located on this level along with conference rooms, the idea was to create a more introverted space to address issues of acoustic containment and visual privacy. The mass is split into two boxes, allowing the landing to become the threshold zone that visually opens up to the harbor view along the curtain wall on one side and linked to a passage to the conference rooms on the other. The visual framing also satisfied the client’s request to provide a controlled glimpse or “borrowed scene” of the activated staircase from the recording studio as a filming background.

Bloomberg Hong Kong © Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
Bloomberg Hong Kong
© Neri&Hu Design and Research Office

On the final level of the 27th floor, the staircase opens up again to be more extroverted to bring in views of the surroundings. The massing is reduced further in scale, punctuated with larger openings and clear glass to provide expansive views. A cantilevered viewing podium is designed as part of the auditorium break-out space to provide dramatic views down the multiple levels and the journey culminates in a lounge facing the harbor view.

Through careful composition and juxtaposition, the ordinary vignettes we take for granted on a daily basis, especially in an office typology, are choreographed into a rich journey that allows for moments of chance encounters, of pause and informal conversations.

Further information:
thepractice.neriandhu.com
www.bloomberg.com