High on Life: HighHouse

Richard Lawn ascends 290m to a Singaporean venue with views of the island state to silence patrons – until the heady mix of music, art and cuisine takes over
L to R E&E's Chen Shiuh Yang and Gary Goh; Oue Group's Wayne Lee

L to R E&E's Chen Shiuh Yang and Gary Goh; OUE Group's Wayne Lee

Spanning more than 1,000m2 across Levels 61 and 62 of One Raffles Place, HighHouse serves a sophisticated food and cocktail menu accompanied by a roster of live music and DJ performances. Level 62 opens into a grand space marked by a double-storey bar facing an immense digital screen, displaying immersive artwork to complement the music selection of the night. Plush booths and dining tables line the floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of Marina Bay and the Padang. More intimate areas include a private meeting room and an entertainment space. Complementing the interior are paintings, sculptures and digital artworks by emerging and established artists.

Conceptualised in 2021 by owner OUE Limited, a high-impact BGM system featured high on the HighHouse agenda. OUE Limited’s activities include the development, investment and management of real-estate assets across the commercial, hospitality, retail, residential and healthcare sectors. “AV is a key element as it drives the evening into the night,” explains Wayne Lee, general manager of OUE Restaurants, the food and lifestyle division of OUE Limited. “Our COO, Andrew Ing, is a detailed and highly experienced F&B operator. As our driving force, Andrew emphasised the requirement for the AV technology to blend into the room cohesively.”

As evenings progress from sunset drinks to a dinner service inspired by the Pacific Coast, HighHouse transitions into a nighttime destination with DJs providing a high energy vibe. Integrating the AV technology was a crucial factor from the start of the project’s development. OUE stipulated that the BGM levels would gradually build up until 10pm, when the entire space would be transformed into one high-energy lounge. “I wanted to bring the systems integrator in from the beginning,” continues Lee, who ultimately assumed a project management role in which the consultants, main contractor and subcontractors all reported to him. An email sent to Electronics & Engineering (E&E) in February 2022 set the ball rolling.

With audio placed on an equal pedestal alongside fine dining, beverages and tasteful interior décor, E&E was subsequently commissioned to design, supply and install the AV and lighting technologies for the lavish new property. The high investment involved in redeveloping commercial venues invariably leads to frenzied deadlines so revenue generation can begin. “Owing to the scale and complexity, this project took longer than others,” adds Lee. “We were allowed more time to renovate and completely fulfil the design brief.”

As a result of being invited into the project design at such an early stage, E&E could focus on planning and laying a futureproofed cabling infrastructure. With the AV and lighting designs approved, E&E project manager Chen Shiuh Yang entered the bare space in April 2023. “My first impression was that there was just one small service elevator leading down to the ground floor, so I was apprehensive as to how we would transport raw materials and equipment up and waste down,” he says. “It proved to be a delicate challenge throughout, but we planned the logistics very carefully and ultimately endured no problems. We resisted transporting the equipment to site until the place was clean.”

A Dante network provides audio management while HDMI and NDI are the main video transport protocols, with digital artwork controlled from a PC. Netgear XSM managed switches interface the AV and video control domains. Simplified visual control presets for the resolution percentages can be activated from a Stream Deck panel that connects 19 IP addresses to the AMX NX-4200 AV control matrix. Having interwoven an extensive infrastructure of conduits to route the category network, loudspeaker and DMX cables over two levels, E&E had ample time to focus on blending the audio and visual technology into the décor.

Under E&E’s stewardship for over three decades, JBL has become a symbol of quality assurance in Singapore. As a Tottenham Hotspur FC (English Premier League football club) supporter, Lee was also reassured by the JBL and Harman technologies following a demonstration by E&E. “I was very impressed with the powerful audio system when I visited the football stadium, so I knew we had the best sound system in Singapore,” he explains.

An Allen & Heath Qu-16 digital console at FOH in HighHouse

Allen & Heath QU-16 digital console at FOH

Pioneer DJ decks provide nightly entertainment

Pioneer DJ decks provide nightly entertainment

Live bands, which benefit from the higher SPL capabilities, are mixed on an Allen & Heath Qu-16 worksurface. Monitored on JBL EON710 10-inch speakers, the house and guest DJs perform on two Pioneer CDJ-3000 multi players and a Pioneer DJM-A9 mixer, with a Tascam CD player used when external parties with other forms of media need to play their own content.

Digital artwork is displayed throughout the property

Digital artwork is displayed throughout the property

Zoned areas including the corridors and toilets have been created on the various levels which are capable of streaming the same or different programmes. With the addition of wireless control interfaces including 10.9-inch Apple iPad touchscreens, restaurant staff with user permissions can intuitively manage and configure the background music.

However, given the staff’s high AV skills, an ease-of-use design criteria ranked lower on the design brief than powerful intelligible audio and high-impact visuals and lighting, and Chen dismisses the notion that the DJ and live performance technical area is simple to operate. “With the exception of the ambient lighting, the audio, lighting and video systems have no presets, so it’s not a one-button operation,” he states. “The key managers are well-versed in getting the system up, closing it down and changing the configuration for dining or for later in the evening. For a non-technical person, however, it’s very intimidating not knowing which button to switch on or off.”

The LED wall in the 62nd-level restaurant can be transformed into digital art

The LED wall in the 62nd-level restaurant can be transformed into digital art

A high SPL audio system that also allows conversations to be carried out audibly was designed by E&E’s CEO, Gary Goh, assisted in his role by audio programmer Arif Salim with Derrick Koh providing pre- and after-sales support. The scene is set on level 61, where sourced music is evenly dispersed throughout designated zones by a network of unobtrusive white JBL Control 18C/T coaxial ceiling speakers, Control 68HP pendants and 40CS/T ceiling subwoofers. Low-frequency extension is provided by JBL ASB 12-inch subwoofers.

Adjacent to the main space, a mix of decadence and intimacy awaits behind the doors of a private entertainment room, accommodating groups of 12–15 guests. Glass doors to a wine cellar and dry ageing room reveal an impressive stock of specially imported Spanish hams, aged steaks and fine wines. The culinary high notes are accompanied by renditions from the adjacent entertainment room, which is outfitted with a karaoke system of JBL Pasión 8F and 12SP powered speakers together with Shure BLX wireless handheld microphones.

Powered by Crown DriveCore DCi amplifiers and managed by a BSS Blu-100 processor, level 62’s JBL Control 18C/T coaxial and Control 47C/T high ceiling speakers are augmented by ASB 12- and 18-inch subwoofers. In addition, JBL Control 68HP pendant speakers are suspended above the dining tables from the 5m-high ceiling. Tweaks to the interior design caught the E&E project manager off guard on several occasions. “After we had suspended the pendants, the contractor was asked to insert a false ornate ceiling here,” says Chen. “The Control 68HPs remained and the ceiling was built around them, so they resemble ceiling-mounted speakers rather than pendants.”

With an emphasis on nightlife, level 62 is a higher-SPL version of level 61. Located unobtrusively beside a large Unilumin Kslim 1.9mm pixel pitch LED above the technical DJ area, a pair of JBL CBT 1000 and CBT 1000E Extensions column speakers provide the higher volumes, with designated audio zones installed with a blend of JBL Control speakers.

For the visuals, 4K imagery is broadcast over HDMI connection from a customised content video player to the Unilumin LEDs and Samsung 55-inch displays. “We had to prioritise and conceive of how we could display the visual films with the digital artwork, which required a lot of technical discussions and coordination upfront,” explains Chen. “The budget was almost immaterial as we were made aware that the resolution was the overriding factor in specification. Mr Ing was very involved along the way, so we had to ensure that all the touch points were spot on. The 3x4K output for the main screen is the most advanced in terms of high resolution, ensuring that HighHouse stands out.”

Ultimately, the demo made the sale. “We attended several demos of screens with different pixel pitches before we opted on the 1.9mm pixel pitch Unilumin LEDs,” explains Lee. “We have invested heavily in digital art, so E&E’s proof of concept affirmed their appointment.”

As the sun sets and night descends, the SPLs increase and the lighting effects play a more prominent role. Dramatically transforming day into night, an Onyx NX2 lighting desk from Obsidian Control Systems manages 12 Martin Era 150 Wash and three Martin Era 300 Profile fixtures via an Onyx Netron EN12 Ethernet to DMX switch.

The private dining room is furnished with a Samsung 4K LED screen and JBL speakers

The private dining room is furnished with a Samsung 4K LED screen and JBL speakers


Pro AVL Asia: High on Life