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Collective Designs the First Closed-loop Sustainable Bar Penicillin in Hong Kong

Kevin Mak

Architecture studio Collective has completed a closed-loop sustainable concept bar Penicillin in the nightlife district SoHo in Hong Kong. Penicillin’s design is informed by the founders’ philosophy of minimizing carbon footprint in food and beverage production, and to showcase their continuous process of culinary experimentation. 

The design is a hybrid theme of ‘industrial’ and ‘nature’ – the concept dives deep into an exploration of the coexistence of men’s hard work with nature.

 Penicillin Bar, Hong Kong / Collective

Penicillin’s design tells the story through the contrast in materiality. The Penicillin Lab, exterior and entrance are cladded in white tiles, showcasing the team’s culinary experiments, processes, equipment and machineries. The Fermentation Chamber is located at the back of the bar as an extension to the laboratory, allowing visitors to see the work-in-progress experiments at Penicillin. The seating area and main bar adopts the palettes and finishes inspired by characteristics often found in nature such as dark, earthy tones and raw textures of stones. 

 Penicillin Bar, Hong Kong / Collective

The focal point is the main bar, featuring a bar countertop which appears as if it was carved out of giant volcanic rock and is described as the ‘cockpit for bartending’ by founder Agung Prabowo, designed to fit all the needs for performative efficiency. The language of laboratory design is further explored through the customised displays behind the main bar. Penicillin’s bespoke bottles of cocktails and ingredients are fixed onto the wall with a laboratory clamping system. 

 Penicillin Bar, Hong Kong / Collective

Adhering to Penicillin’s philosophy of closed-loop creation process and utilizing locally found resources, Collective collaborated with Street Sign HK, a local conservation group that advocates street signs as urban cultural heritage, to design and fabricate customised neon wall lights, signages and handmade labels for the bespoke cocktail bottles. Collective also worked with HK Timberbank, a local social entrepreneur focusing on recycling and reusing timber for construction and carpentry, to source pieces of fallen tree trunks from the typhoon seasons and fabricated the tabletops. 

 Penicillin Bar, Hong Kong / Collective

“Roman and Agung wanted to work with someone who hadn’t necessarily designed for food and beverage before,” says Betty Ng, founder of Collective. “They are both very hardworking and open-minded to explore new ideas. For them to keep pushing for something new and different in this current climate — and taking risks — is something that is completely aligned with Collective’s own philosophy. And that’s why I’ve decided to be a part of this project.”

With a focus on conserving energy, minimizing pollution, and tapping a network of local producers and designers to explore the various aspects of Hong Kong culture, Penicillin offers a completely new and sustainable bar-going experience like no other. 

Image courtesy of COLLECTIVE