Eaton Club Hong Kong: Creating a hybrid space where work meets leisure

In Hong Kong’s competitive commercial real estate market, co-working space providers are adding new features to attract prospective users to their property. So when Eaton Club decided to launch a fintech hub and social work club, it worked with Space Matrix to create an exclusive office-cum-leisure space. It would be a facility where members could work, network and enjoy the benefits of a private members’ lounge, complete with a bar and pantry.

When Eaton Club handed over the 12,000-square-foot bare space to Space Matrix, the design team faced the daunting task of incorporating leisure and lifestyle elements into a traditional commercial office environment. Besides a short project deadline of three weeks to submit design and drawings, as well as architectural constraints such as a low ceiling, the team had to acquire regulatory clearances. These clearances were required since food and drinks would be served inside the property.

Where colleagues can work and network over a coffee or beer

Eaton Club wanted to introduce a hybrid concept where a work area sat next to a lounge, all enclosed within a single space. Located in the heart of Hong Kong, it would provide members an exclusive zone where they could work, collaborate and network with colleagues, as well as entertain clients without having to step out of the office.

But this requirement posed a challenge for the design team. Eaton Club is in a Grade A building, which is a commercial building that houses banks, law firms and other corporate offices. To build a bar and pantry in such a building meant applying for food and alcohol licence and conducting various checks to ensure all the building standards were met. Space Matrix went beyond the usual terms of a design brief to cater to this requirement.

“This was an unusual request for a project in a traditional commercial building but our design team was eager to help. We became the single point of contact for the client as we pooled in resources to ensure the bar and pantry were a success,” says Karol Wong, Project Manager, Space Matrix.

The team worked with consultants for fire regulation, water-proofing and security measures. It helped Eaton Club apply for the food and beverage licence that entitles the company to run the bar and pantry. Space Matrix also helped the client to purchase equipment required for this area.

Since the hub followed an open office plan, the designers had to pay special attention to the building’s drainage and ventilation systems. Space planning included a careful study to identify the most effective spot for the air exhaust so that food odour did not travel to the entire office. The bar and pantry layout were designed in such a way that it utilised the building’s drainage system well.

A contemporary office that exudes luxury and warmth

The client had envisaged this fintech hub to have a luxurious, club-like feel. Space Matrix decided to bring in the expertise of its sister company, Blink Design, which specialises in hospitality projects. The designers from both the companies collaborated on the creative aspects of this project.

They chose wood and leather for the furniture and wall panelling. A special feature is the 15-meter-long bar counter top that is done in wood. The wall behind the bar is covered in leather in a deep brown colour and adds to the luxurious look.

The floor is either lined in carpets or wood with a herringbone pattern that gives the space an open and wide feel.

Feature lighting has been liberally used to accentuate the warm and welcoming vibe of the place. Bright lights infuse a sense of energy to the work area, whereas softer tones add an intimate, pleasant mood in the networking space.

Flexible layout to meet different needs

Eaton Club wanted a layout that it could modify as and when the need arose. On a regular day, members have a leisure area where they can mingle and eight individual office spaces. But what if a member wants to host a seminar for 100-150 people? That’s possible too.

Space Matrix has designed the space in such a way that the work area can be converted into an events arena in a short time. Most of the furniture – chairs, desks and bar tables – are on wheels, and can be moved around easily. There is a foldable acoustic panel that can be used to divide the space. The panel not only provides members an enclosed space to conduct an event but also helps in cutting out noise to the rest of the work area.

This bespoke environment that meets the work, networking and leisure needs of its members has helped Eaton Club create a differentiated value proposition in the Hong Kong’s competitive co-working space market.