Located at the heart of an apple orchard, in the region of South Tyrolean Dolomites near Bolzano, stands a curious and eye-catching mirror structure. Celebrated architect, Peter Pichler blurs the lines between a relevant contemporary construction on the countryside and art installation. A valiant move for a region known for rejoicing long-standing traditions. The premise of the project is a Vacation Home, taking into account the surrounding area and the upmost comfort and privacy for the guests. The front of the house showcases an honest modernist façade, with clean geometric lines. The interior design follows the cue with a strong white color dominance, with the occasional raw wood on walls and furniture. It’s worth mentioning the house boasts a floating illusion above the ground thanks to well-placed foundations — the light-project for the night time is exquisite, taking the striking mirror walls a step further. It may not be an explicit intention, however I find the gorgeous Mirror Houses to be a crossbreed of flawless architecture and a site-specific that would fit art magazines effortlessly.
Torre de Palma Wine Hotel is an installation of a new program to the already-existed agricultural landscape in Monforte, Portugal. Completed recently in November 2014 by João Mendes Ribeiro, the new addition rethinks the use of older infrastructures, such as the farm buildings, in order to generate new architecture with multiple courtyards that accommodate different activities. Due to the scale of the project, I have condensed it to focus on the minimal interior that reflects the newness being introduced to the old estate. With a simple gesture of covering the interior in white, the architect masked his interventions, including replacements to structural elements. The new group of buildings share a common aesthetic of minimalistic and crisp geometry, having the highlights of wooden claddings, concrete textures, and tile works that complexify the white canvas. The monochromatic wine cellar is starkly contrast to the ground level, having dark materials with slivers of light that create the mood and ambience appropriately. The project is highly ambitious in my opinion, and it was finished successfully with beautiful spatial qualities that are both diverse and unified. While standing out in the bare landscape of the Alentejo plains, João Mendes Ribeiro cleverly tied his designs together...
Located on the coast of Geojedo, an island south of South Korea, Mug Hakdong sits on the beach off of the main street. It was designed by Hyunjoon Yoo Architects for a client who runs a medium-scale sales distribution company and wanted his employees to be able to utilize the space for training, learning as well as enjoying the cafe and its facilities. The architects developed the concept for this hotel to be as flexible as the program requires. There would be a varying number of people and customers at different times so the hotel would need to accommodate the constantly changing needs of the client’s staff and its own guests. The stunning result is a beautiful convertible space of mobile walls that rotate or fold to provide this flexibility. The intersection of walls as planes that overlap and dissect the interior spaces make an intriguing and complicated volume. I was drawn to this project not only of how beautiful it is aesthetically, but that the challenges of program requirements of connecting public and private has turned into a landmark that also helped revive the local community. Photography by Youngchae Park.
The unique challenge of designing on a site with a 300 year old Beech tree was something Govaert-Vanhoutte Architects were up for. Their style, reminiscent of Mies Van Der Rohe’s post-war modern minimalism with the use of glass and its transparency, seems perfect to bring the experience of the landscape, the context and its history into this hotel with 4 suites in Diksmuide, Belgium. To prevent as little disruption as possible to the 300 year old monument and its landscape, Hotel Notarishuys was erected 50cm recessed from the ground level. The minimalist architecture allows the exterior to become part of the interior, and the building disappears in its understated demeanor around the tree. As described by the architects: The presence of the building is reduced and merely defines spaces in terms of: in and out, in front of a wall, between a wall and glass, on one side of the inner (outer) space or the other, etc. As an extension of an existing restaurant, I love the idea that this hotel manages to maintain its privacy without being secluded. The concrete interiors and homogenous colors of the suites create a calm, reflective presence to be under the Beech tree without being...
Instead of the usual lush interior finishes and decor typically found in modern hospitality projects, the designers Petra Liquida have made the experience of light, volume and architectural details the visual luxuries of Casa do Conto. Translated as the ‘House of Tales’, this unique hotel in Porto, Portugal was designed with R2 Design around the concept of integrating various parts of literature from 6 different authors of the history and architecture of the city, into the suites. While the graphics of the relief in the concrete ceilings do evoke a cultural and contemplative experience when one looks up before falling asleep, it is the architecture of the rest of the hotel that I find alluring. From the reference of wood to match the concrete walls, to the details of the central stairs, to the manipulation of light within the volumes of each space continuing into the next – the result is one of visual luxury in a minimalist aesthetic that still pays reverence to the historical context of the city. The new project evokes, through an abstract approach, the old house adornment and its wall textures by using traditional surfaces – crossed wood patterns, corrugated steel plates and curved plywood panels –...
Featuring Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa in Torres del Paine, Chile. The award-winning hotel is immersed in the landscape and emerges from the hillside, with views of the Torres del Paine National Park, declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978. The architecture and interiors maximize the use of wood which exudes warmth, safety and protection. The hotel is like a cozy hideaway in contrast to the wide open landscape and one can only imagine the evenings spent in the different spaces within the hotel which are casual and friendly, supporting guests’ interactions as well as providing private zones for relaxing time and admiring the views. Furnishings and textiles were hand made by Chilean craftspeople, using natural materials from the region, high quality workmanship and inspiration from the surrounding estancias as well as the influence of the native Tehuelche people. The use of wood in such a large scale might feel excessive for some but I love the dedicated commitment to the primary material which deepens the connection to the outdoors environment.
For the frequent hostel client, it must be extremely exciting to see an accommodation that looks as clean and contemporary as the Goli & Bosi Split Design Hostel located in Split, Croatia. Designed by Studio Up, an old department store has had its facade restored, all forms of egress including the old escalators retained and turned it into a popular 29-room hostel with dormitories shared up to 8 beds as well as private penthouse suites. Its minimalist interiors are consistent throughout its rooms, the public areas and their De Belly Restaurant. The interiors are divided up by skewed walls partitions that are designed along the perimeter of its odd shaped site. Some rooms utilize double height spaces for beds and while I find the infographics within the interiors give a nice modern identity to this minimalistic architecture, my favorite design intention of this project is the significance of the yellow being the color of sulphur since sulphur baths were ubiquitous in the old days of Split. This link of history to the current in its many elements make this hostel be more interesting to the city.
I hope you are willing to travel with me today and explore a little magic that is hotel Habita MTY. Located in the northern part of Mexico in Monterey and with a view of the Sierra Madre mountains, the hotel is a stunning result of collaborative work by architect Agustin Landa and interior designer Joseph Dirand. Modern architecture is supported by all black and white interiors and materials such as concrete and dark wood throughout only add another layer of sophisticated luxury. Strong design statements such as the custom mirror wall behind the reception desk or masculine platform beds are all part of the Habita MTY experience. And of course, one cannot forget the Poolbar which includes two infinity pools and hard to ignore views of the city. I’m always on the lookout for new, modern hotels but many times wonder what will happen to their immediate, flashy image a few years later. Considering Habita MTY was built back in 2008, one can appreciate its smart design choices that are deserving the many design awards it has received.
Cavo Tagoo hotel is located in Mykonos Island in Greece and it is owned by an award-winning architect Paris Liakos. Cavo Tagoo strives to be “a canvas upon which visitors can color their dreams” and it has deservedly gained its 5-star status through minimal and sophisticated design. A sense of craft and luxury is visible in all areas of the hotel while the water is still very much the setting element that embraces the hotel. Other defining materials are pebbles that cover the roofs, wood, stone, and bamboo. The interiors are wrapped in washes of white with bold splashes of colors, gold in the lobby being my favorite. Paris Liakos collaborated with Aggelos Aggelopoulos, Yannis Mourikis and George Gavalas and as a result, the hotel is a “masterful combination of traditional rustic elements with modern minimalist purity.” I am a big fan of hospitality design and admire Cavo Tagoo’s essence of calming environment and curated design decisions.
In the middle of a wheat field, between the Natural Park of the Bardenas Reales de Navarra and the town of Tudela, sits the small agglomeration of buildings of the Aire de Bardenas hotel. Designed by Barcelona-based, Latin-american architects Emiliano Lopez and Mónica Rivera, the hotel was conceived as a succession of protected spaces from which to contemplate the exterior, due to the site’s exposure to very strong winds. The ensemble is composed by a series of simple monochromatic cubic structures, arranged around a central court, offering climatic protection and providing simple, generous and silent spaces. I’m particularly interested in courtyard-based constructions and this architecture has been designed with a very notable respect for its surroundings and their climatic predispositions, all the while creating a quiet oasis of beauty and peace towards its center. Photography by José Hevia.
The Hotel and Sport School Zenden was built by Wiel Arets Architects and is located within three monumental town houses near the river Maas in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The hotel includes nine rooms, a pool, a lounge, and a patio. The concept of the project was to transform a once-disparate assortment of guest rooms and athletic spaces – formerly known as the Hotel and Sport School Zenden – into one cohesive hotel. Wiel Arets opened up the ground floor completely to make it feel like one continuous space. A sleek white palette, including white polyurethane floors, and minimalist, box-like rooms with Corian inlays and night-stands integrated into the walls, washing tables placed on floating shelves, TV’s hidden behind reflecting glass and bathroom doors serving as mirrors blend the interior and the three houses together. I like that the architects were able to contradict the typical approach of many hotels of “the more the better” and assume the striking white must be quite calming in the city environment. Thoughts? Photography by Jan Bitter and Joao Morgado.
Swire Hotels has found a niche in Beijing with its minimal boutique hotel, with the Opposite House Hotel. The super minimalist hotel, designed by Kengo Kurna & Associates, provides 99 guest rooms, with a home comfort palette of light wooden floors, glass, and fabric as room dividers. The aesthetics are carried perfectly throughout the lobby, bars and outdoor decks. With subtle suggestions of Chinese inspirations, the overall result is perfectly modern. There is a vivid contrast also between the restaurants, bars, pool and the rooms, where the purpose of each section is perfectly understood. Even the staff wears comfortable and chic uniforms that it’s hard to tell that they actually work there! This has become a tourist attraction in itself in Beijing, even if you don’t stay here when visiting Beijing, it’s worth to try out the cocktails at the bar downstairs.