The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore

September 5, 2017

Located on the bank of Robertson Quay, The Warehouse Hotel is a locally designed boutique heritage property from Singapore hospitality firm The Lo & Behold Group. Renovated from an iconic 1895 warehouse, the building is situated along a famous trade route that once connected Asia and the Straits of Malacca. In the early 20th century, the premises were recognised as a hotbed of activity for secret societies, business deals and underground spirit distilling. Today, The Warehouse Hotel is a meticulously restored, 37-room destination that has redefined the notion of ‘industrial design’ by incorporating elegance, focus, softness and cohesion throughout.

The interiors are designed by the award-winning home-grown agency Asylum, which set out to revisit some of Singapore’s lost history by integrating a selection of industrial-like textures balanced with modern luxe finishes. The lobby and reception area serve as a communal space and comprise of the hotel’s signature restaurant and bar, showcasing décor and furnishings reminiscent of the past. Exposed brick walls line both sides of the entrance as an appreciation of the building’s heritage, while custom lights designed by Asylum are inspired by pulleys found in godowns and line the double-volume ceilings, defining the ambience of the lobby lounge.

A touch of local flavour is further introduced by way of an in-house restaurant, Po, a refined Singaporean concept that presents modern-day local flavours and is designed to provide an almost-at-home dining experience with a juxtaposition of furniture materials used. The crystal-beaded lights featured in the space are supposed to feel like lamps from one’s grandmother’s dining room.

In the bedrooms Asylum set out to create spacious and welcoming rooms designed in muted tones with many offering double-height ceilings, peaked roofs and original industrial details. With no two rooms exactly the same, each exudes a sense of modern luxe.

Speaking exclusively with darc, Asylum’s Creative Director, Chris Lee explained the key requirements behind the decorative lighting elements featured within the hotel: “Lighting is a key component in creating the right ambience for the hotel. We also had to make sure there was a ‘social media worthy’ component, which is where the lobby lighting comes in, which is inspired by vintage pulleys and wheels from the bygone era of the godowns.”

“We also had to make sure we used LED lamps as per the client’s request,” adds Takeo Sugamata of lighting design practice SWITCH. “The LEDs had to be warm enough to create the right ambience (2200K) and had to be dimmable without flickering. We compared several filament style LED lamps and tested the compatibility with a dimmer during the construction stage to ensure the lighting could transcend from day to night and create a different ambience through the course of the day.”

Copper, metal and marble are some of the key materials used throughout the hotel and as such most of the lighting selected continued with this theme in order to tie everything together; there are also some vintage pieces that were specially procured to give the space more of a unique feel.

Working in collaboration with SWITCH, Asylum looked to bring the various spaces alive through the lighting. “We have worked with SWITCH on many projects previously and try to push most of our clients to engage with a lighting designer as we feel, in order for the space to come alive, lighting is a key component,” says Lee. “The mood from day to night has to be different, lighting from a restaurant to a retail store to a hotel all have different requirements and as much as we would like to wear as many hats as possible, we don’t claim to be the experts when it comes to lighting design.

“The hanging lamps are the feature piece in the space, however it was important to create a background for them. The lamps need to be dimmed down quite a lot so that people’s attention goes to the pulleys as well as the lamps themselves. By uplighting the pitched ceiling we tried to make the pulleys and truss structure look like a silhouette.”

Asylum was thankfully brought on to the project very early on and as such had the benefit of creating the project from scratch. While the brief never changed, with the owners’ vision aligned with Asylum’s, one of the biggest challenges the team faced was the design of the rooms, as Lee explains: “Working within a conservation building meant we had to customise most of the rooms. We also wanted natural daylight in as many rooms as possible, so interventions were done on the ceiling structure to allow natural light to permeate rooms without windows.

“We also had to keep many of the original elements intact. We kept the original façade and trusses so that the authenticity of the building remained and we also discreetly added portal frames to ensure the structural integrity of the building. Part of the intention was also to have a double volume lobby so we could visually connect the external and internal experience.”

Thanks to the considered and meticulous work of Asylum and SWITCH, the Warehouse Hotel offers thoughtful hospitality with historically-detailed rooms that are a proud illustration of old and new.