Hospitality: from adventure getaways to reassuring familiarity
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Hospitality: from adventure getaways to reassuring familiarity

Hotels, restaurants, and wellness centers providing a welcome in harmony with their setting

Matteo Thun & Partners | Studio raro | Lyndon Neri&Rossana Hu | Gherardi Architetti

Hospitality: from adventure getaways to reassuring familiarity
By Editorial Staff -

What do you look for in a vacation and a hotel? We’re all trying to escape the usual routine, but we might also feel comfortable with a touch of hominess. Certainly, that’s often the case if you’re on a business trip. At the end of the day, though, we’d all prefer something that engages us emotionally, and architecture is one of the things entrusted with that task. Ideally, the goal is to offer guests a comfortable, stylish environment. But before arriving at that end product, a great deal of work needs to go into identifying the technical and management solutions that will ensure functionality and easy maintenance.

Starting with the common areas, such as the reception, bar, and restaurant – but maybe also the lounge, wellness center, and swimming pool – and then onto the rooms and, possibly, the suites, every space in a hotel must be carefully planned to ensure the wellbeing of both guests and staff. And the design of front-of-house as well as back-of-house areas is increasingly based on flexibility rather than strict subdivision. Many spaces can’t be slotted into this or that category, such as show kitchens, which are a perfect example of how an area that was once hidden away can take on a central role in a design.


Discovering your destination continues in hotels

Whether it’s a chain hotel with a certain level of standardization or a boutique hotel with endless possibilities for variation, to some extent, every hotel draws something of its personality from its setting, whether that’s town or country. This means that travelers can continue discovering something about their destination from inside the hotel itself. The goal of offering guests an experience based around the location also applies to other types of hospitality facilities, such as restaurants and wellness centers.

The design of the new Jod-Schwefelbad thermal spa center in Bad Wiessee, a Bavarian town on the shores of Lake Tegernsee, was inspired by its natural setting. The moment they step inside, clients are taken on a psychophysical journey to help them reconnect with themselves and the environment. The approach taken by architects Matteo Thun & Partners was based on the principles of salutogenesis, according to which, pleasant environments are conducive to healing and wellbeing. This resulted in a design based around a sequence of rooms that lead clients from public to private spaces. Nature is a presence in every room, enveloping guests in a bath of light, water, and greenery, and creating a holistic experience for body and soul.


The Hospitality category of The Plan Award 2021


The professionals who enter the Hospitality category of The Plan Award are the designers of hotel and restaurant facilities, spa centers, and wellness centers. This annual award, open to both completed and future projects, was established to promote the awareness and quality of the work of designers, academics, and students in the fields of architecture, design, and urban planning, and to broaden the discussion of topical issues affecting the field. The Plan Award 2021 is divided into different categories, for each of which the Jury will decide one winner and, if appropriate, honorable mentions. The registration deadline is 31 May.

Read more about participating in The Plan Award 2021

We’ve selected a few projects from 2020’s The Plan Award that demonstrate the connection between hospitality facilities and their setting.


Hotel Garden: modernization and extension

Studio Raro’s design for the modernization and extension of Hotel Garden in Pieve di Ledro, Trentino, included a range of solutions intended to harmonize with their setting. An extra floor is being added to the building using timber framing and thatched cladding, recalling the building’s original 19th century roof and the ancient stilt houses found along the banks of Lake Ledro.

The other extensions, all with green roofs, will have either charred wood or dark painted wood cladding. Taking advantage of the sloping land behind the existing hotel, the project also includes the construction of ten tree houses. These small buildings reflect the design and materials of the hotel itself, and feature large windows for enjoying the views over the valley and lake.

Read more about the project in italian


Alila Bangsar: linking past and present

The Alila Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, stands on the border between Brickfields, a former colonial district, and Bangsar, an emerging area of the city. Stradling the intersection between the two districts, the building itself represents a link between the old and the new.

The hotel occupies the ground and top eight floors of a newly built tower, with five levels devoted to guest rooms and three to common areas. Lyndon Neri & Rossana Hu’s design is based on a rigid structural grid, whose presence is signaled on the façade, which acts as a kind of frame within which all the hotel’s functions are contained. A key element of the project is the way nature is brought inside from outside, creating an urban oasis and uniting all the common areas, most of which are located around a courtyard.

Read more about the project in English.


Shamal Resort: a huge organic shell

The rocky, sandy landscape of Qatar’s desert inspired the profile of the Shamal Resort. The two long walls that define the main entrance curve organically to create the shape of a shell. Then, the central axis is like a spinal column, creating a network of indoor areas that accommodate the main guest services, including reception, international and traditional restaurants, shopping areas, and tea rooms. 

The resort is like an organic body that hovers just above the ground, sometimes touching it in places like the inner courtyards, which feature large traditional braziers. They form observation points – silent watchtowers for viewing the Middle Eastern sky. Pathways leading to the rooms and outdoor common areas, such as the swimming pools and the falconry theater, are grafted onto the spine. Gherardi Architetti’s design built its design on the basic image of a tent. The rooms are reinterpretations of the traditional local architecture, with the addition of contemporary technology.

Read more about the project in English.


If you’ve designed a hospitality facility – built after January 1, 2018 or yet to be completed – you have until May 31 to register for the Hospitality category of The Plan Award 2021, by entering your project via the registration page.

All credits relating to photos and render refer to individual article

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