Interior Architecture Of China
HOTEL ACTA MIMIC
SPECIAL FEATURE: HOTEL ACTA MIMIC
Looking back over history, it turns out that in a street very close to Paral.lel, but well within the maze of streets known as the Raval, and particularly known as “Barrio Chino”, there once stood a lofty theatre. This building, greatly frequented by the public, has made it this far in the form of a decrepit ruin that now spends its days precariously propping up a facade and the occasional, and by-now forgotten wall. Not completely unexpectedly, its apparent uselessness, immorality or problem, has been seen as the opportunity to build a new hotel which is not clear whether it is supposed to entice or house the tourists, necessary or inevitable, that arrive in the city of Barcelona.
And on the subject of the building, two classic strategies are initially applied: listening to the place and asking the user. In other words, the decision was taken to preserve a historic facade, despite the fact that it is not officially protected, and to insert the building between it and the party wall of the adjacent building. The new building treats the rooms as if they were shelves, using wells, a resource borrowed from the selfsame historic buildings of the highly compact old district to afford a dramatic ambience to the common spaces, which are located below st reet level . The relationship of the neat and static facade which would yield, and does yield, a programme of conventional rooms, with the other facades in the area is imbued with a certain complexity and change, using a huge wrap that reflects the changing light of day on the facade of the new building. Asking the user, the new hotel has two different miens depending on whether you are in the room or in any one of the common areas. The public areas in the building, below street level, are treated heterogeneously to generate cosy corners and different ambiences. A variety of forms, colours and furniture is offered, as an extension of the street-level dynamism that is not actually within sight. And on the contrary, the rooms are imbued with sobriety to make for easy adaptation to the tourist’s decisions. From the inside of the room a direct visual relationship is established with the street through the shower area, located on the facade, and the huge wrap which, with the help of vinyl, protects it from the eyes of the street.
IAOC: On the subject of Hotel Acta Mimic, two classic strategies were initially applied: listening to the place and asking the user. What does it mean to listen to the place?
Xavier Claramunt: Listen to the place means “look at the place” and understand how it is configured, which are the most important facts of the surroundings and the values of the neighborhood.
IAOC: You preserved the historic facade, despite the fact that it is not officially protected. What made you to make that decision? And what does it mean to the city to preserve the historic facade?
Xavier Claramunt: What makes me take this decision was the complicity of the neighbours when we proposed them the idea that we sensed was the best for the place. They understood it, and they bet for it. They liked to have the memory of what had been the building before, a theatre.
To the city, preserve the historic facade means create a dialogue between the past and the present. Means that, somehow, the neighbourhood wants to remember the values, not of the quality of the building, but the qualities of the activity they carried out inside… plays, cultural activities, meetings, etc. It was a place for the citizens, which gathered deep values for them, therefore for the city.
IAOC: I love the huge wrap in front of the facade, it’s attractive and beautiful. What you want to express via the colours and drawings on the huge wrap?
Xavier Claramunt: What we want to express is dynamism, character and freshness, a new way of understanding a facade and show the pedestrian and the client himself of the hotel that graphic is not going to be there forever, it will be changed soon, and they will have the chance to see a new facade of a building again and again and again. In fact, the most important thing is that this wrap, with the simple fact that it has to be changed, gives to the building this dynamism.
IAOC: Why the common spaces are located below the street-level, instead of being located on the ground floor? What are the disadvantages and advantages of it?
Xavier Claramunt: The common spaces are located below the street level because there is much more space. The main advantage is that the common spaces are calmer below the street level, and there is more privacy. That gives to the client a nice promenade discovering the common spaces after doing the check-in. The disadvantage is that you just have to remember they are not on the ground floor.
IAOC: People always hope the hotel they live in could be like home, where they can relax well, sleep well, and it also should be really convenient. How do you make sure the hotel’s comforts and functions?
Xavier Claramunt: The hotel’s comfort and functions depends on what we give to the client. And we give comfortable furniture and private spaces (like home), however we give another important thing to the client who is in a different city, in a different building, which is the chance to try new experiences.
IAOC: Have you ever lived in the hotels that you designed? Does this kind of experiences have any help to your work?
Xavier Claramunt: Yes. But in fact I always imagine myself living in the hotel before it’s finished. That’s why I find what I really want for that building on that place.
IAOC: Creativities always make a hotel very impressive, and turn to be an important reason that the guests want to live in the hotel again. What you think is the most important creativity that you did in this project?
Xavier Claramunt: The most important creativity I did in this project is the surprise (as all the others)… the surprise of having to look for the common spaces, the surprise of discovering a very white bright room after walking in a black dark corridor, the surprise of having a light colored room, the surprise of having a shower with natural light…
IAOC: Among all of the creative design hotels you know, do you have a favorite one? Why do you like it?
Xavier Claramunt: The Citizen in Amsterdam, because it’s simple and has all the elements to enjoy the experience of showering and sleeping. The common spaces are bright, fresh and friendly, with comfortable furniture.
IAOC: The limited budget is always an obstacle to a wonderful hotel design, especially for the small hotels. What should the architect do to balance the relationship between the limited budget and the design?
Xavier Claramunt: In order to balance the relationship between the limited budget and the design, we analyze the essence the hotel needs. Therefore, it is very important to keep the ideas of the color, the texture and the space… which gives the senses to the client.