Spiritland, designed by HOK, puts music at the centre of its bar and restaurant offering
Words by Toby Maxwell
From early morning to late night, Spiritland – located in London’s Grade I-listed Royal Festival Hall – puts music at the centre of its bar and restaurant offering. Designed by HOK, Spiritland’s design utilises interior space, clever sound insulating technology and luscious fabrics to bring together music and food in the 180-seat restaurant – bringing it in line with the trend of experiential dining, which mixes elements of the restaurant and leisure world.
The space is able to transition from day to night because the architecture has brought to life the changing face of the restaurant industry. It fits the theme of a dining space, but – much like office environments – works hard to deliver versatility. The design of the interior has responded to this both technically and conceptually, creating a flexible space that allows for work and play, and establishing a cross between, simultaneously, a co-working space and a DJ venue.
Interview Beate Mellwig HOK
Beate Mellwig, senior principal at HOK, explains some of the core components of the design.
Versatility was crucial for the Spiritland project. What are some of the key design ideas and components that made this possible?
The Spiritland restaurant was born out of a desire to engage with music in the deepest possible way, to hear it as the artist intended, with food and drink to match. In short, it is a place dedicated to people who feel as passionate about music as food. The design celebrates the theatrical, evoking a 1970s-era recording studio with its bespoke sound system, rounded leather booths and marble bar. In addition to serving breakfast through to dinner, the 180-seat venue hosts live events, listening parties and other special programming. Incorporating the acoustic principles of ‘absorb, block and cover’ into the space ensures that music and customer conversations can coexist in harmony.
The multifunctionality of the bar and restaurant is augmented by clever design – such as putting the cafe and bar seating towards the front, and keeping more private dining areas to the back. Image Credit: CHRIS ANSELL
HOK created a space that could respond to the changes throughout the day, from coffee shop, cafe, restaurant and event space. This was accomplished through its use of light fixtures and versatility in design features. Transparent, translucent and opaque visual aspects from the outside needed to be carefully considered, while the bar and cafe area needed to be visible from the exterior, with the restaurant seating being more private and secluded towards the rear of the space.
What part did acoustics play in this project, and what technical innovations were brought into play?
Spiritland was designed to provide an entirely immersive, unique dining experience to engage with all the five senses of the diner. The design solution creates an entirely immersive space that enhances the most primal senses of sight, sound and taste.
Sound is paramount for Spiritland, so the venue’s prominent location under the Royal Festival Hall presented potential challenges. The design ensured that external sound does not overpower the space, and equally, sound from Spiritland does not bleed into the Royal Festival Hall’s concert spaces.
The space was designed with ceilings consisting of pivoting acoustic tiles that can be adjusted to respond to the sound created within, and walls clad with acoustic timber panels to prevent sound from bleeding through. To further ensure the control of sound, an acoustic feature wall sits beside a flexible stage used during live events. There is a principle focus throughout on the listening experiencing, in terms of architecture and the Living Voice sound system. [Acoustics consultant] SSV was brought on board to join HOK undertaking the reconfiguration of the space with sound-absorbing curtains and an array of ceiling-hung baffles.