Konstantinos Karampatakis, Christina Stamouli, Thalia Sahinidi, Christos Spetseris, Fay Mylona, Lila Simou, Natassa Kallou, Myrsini Ziogou, Antonella Theodorakatou
Claus Brechenmacher & Reiner Baumann
Winner of Best Suite of the Year at the Greek Hotel of the Year Awards, 2020
The design of the 38 rooms is directly inspired by the history and character of the original Art Deco building, and by the contemporary life of the ancient city in which it is located.
The main challenge of the project lay in the re-working of the layout of the building. Originally built to house retail space, offices and apartments in an era that gave little thought to the future legacy of buildings, the structure was arranged to suit the use intended at the time. The resulting irregularity of the building’s structure required an innovative approach to re-organising the layout so that it’s new use would work within it. More recently the building interior has been stripped back leaving only the façade and structural elements to provide the clues to its history and to direct our design decision making.
The rooms of the lower floors benefit from higher ceilings but as you rise through the building the number of rooms on each level decreases as they increase in floor size to compensate for less lofty ceiling heights. The top floor is then set back from the front of the building, which allows for larger balconies as well as more extensive views across Athens. We reinvented the floorplans, working around the columns and openings to create an unconventional system of rooms and communal space that maximises the qualities of the building and minimises its restrictions. As the building had already been internally stripped we worked to retain whatever remained and to showcase them as valuable and vital elements of historical value. Moreover, we used them as our guidelines for design decisions made elsewhere, for instance, the main circulatory route of each floor has been designed to mirror the curve of the building’s façade. Our Athenian-inspired concept was to create a wider main ‘avenue’ from which smaller side ‘alleys’, each leading to 2 or 3 rooms, were set back, creating privacy and acoustic separation for guests. The creative interpretation of the traditional hotel corridor to mimic the urban layout of central Athens leads naturally to the creation of ‘neighbourhood squares’. These communal spaces serve specific purposes on each floor, from dining room and lounge to wellness centre, to work hub.
The restrictions of the irregular structural grid also means that each room has its own unique character. Obliquely angled walls, left over nooks and crannies of space and varying ceiling heights have been dealt with creatively to remove any sense of awkwardness or feeling of tightness. Instead rooms are open and airy with playfully carved out shower rooms and storage facilities that sit seamlessly within the space. The interior design is directly inspired by the streamlined modernity of the architecture, with the curves and repetitive patterns of the façade and balconies. The traditionally rendered façade has been introduced within the rooms, wrapping the outer facing walls and bringing a hint of the external identity of the building inside. The characteristic grey of this pigmented render was the starting point in putting together the palette of colours and materials in the rooms. The terrazzo flooring brings a cool lightness to the space; the classically heavier American walnut adds warmth and depth and the blush-pink velvet upholstery introduces a touch of glamour in keeping with the style of the building. The palette is amplified and complimented by a selection of bold, brutalist pieces of furniture and custom-designed brass accents.