Los Angeles-based studio Optimist Design has created a sculptural music studio in Berlin as the latest addition to Red Bull Studio’s series of global music spaces. Built in a former power station dating from the 1920’s, the new contemporary interiors perfectly contrast modern Berlin with the old.
Commissioned by Red Bull to design its twelfth music studio globally (other locations include Tokyo, LA, Paris, London and Sao Paulo), Optimist Design ensured the space was Berlin specific by keeping the interior’s industrial feel and creating a series of sculptural rooms within the existing walls, to form the spaces required for the world-class recording and mixing studio.
Combining their skills as architects, interior and spatial designers with digital experience, Optimist Design approached the project as two worlds – creating a social space outside and a series of chambers inside determined by geometry, sound and technical requirements. “The design was shaped by acoustics,” explains Tino Schaedler, Founder, Optimist Design. “This was then broken down into a prismatic surfaces to ensure perfect sound for the recording and mixing space.”
The challenge for the space design included ensuring the high standards of technical and sound requirements but also creating a venue that looks good in camera. The team approached the design process with film-based, 3D drawings of the space to create a virtual journey before the build started. This pushed the boundaries of design and saved time during the initial stages. The new studio provides performance and mixing spaces with communal areas linked through multi-perspective views into the recording rooms. A dark graphite colour was used throughout to create a strong backdrop and striking contrast to the rest of the design.
The studio highlighted the link between the old power station’s industrial era copper infrastructure and Red Bull’s association with power and energy by cladding the walls with over one kilometer of copper bands. A visual rhythm has been created by forming the shape of the copper strips into an undulating sequence to represent the natural flow of sound and music.
Michael Brown of Optimist Design states, “Red Bull’s revitalisation of the power station is perfect metaphor for the resurgence of Berlin as a capital of ideas. The city’s unused former industrial spaces, rendered obsolete by shifts in technology, provide a post-industrial canvas for the creative exploration of music, art and culture.” The copper bands add depth and distinction to the sculptural shape and serve to meld together the heterogeneous shapes required by the different recording rooms.
A giant staircase flows centrally through the space, allowing musicians to literally climb up to a newly created mezzanine lounge nestled on top of the recording room sculpture. Muted colours and warm materials delineate a variety of spaces for musicians and their friends to choose from for groups meetings or hideout niches.
“There is an interesting connection between the surrounding social spaces and the recording areas. We wanted to create views into the recording and control room from the shared spaces so people can watch and take photos what is happening inside. We crafted a ‘hang out’ lounge on the upper level that has a beautiful view from above into the recording space. Ulti- mately, the music is about creation, but at the same time it is also about communication and the experience involved in the process. The space is platform to foster creativity, add spirit and make people feel comfortable. I used to play in a band when I was in high school and we re- corded a few times in a studio, which was always a special time. Today, many musicians record at home on a computer, so being in a studio is something special for different reasons,” explains Schaedler.
While the original purpose of the building was about electricity, it is now all about the sound shaped by the acoustics and a unique space for creativity. Working with technical sound and acoustics experts, the studio incorporated the right absorption materials, surface and diffusion areas to support the perfect sound platform. Both the formal language as well as the choice of material finishes and colours create a balance of juxtaposition and union, while establishing a new dialogue and balance between old and new.