On a commercial street lined with high-end stores and office buildings, we were commissioned to convert a five-story 1950s apartment building into a thirty six room boutique hotel. In order to convert the existing structure into the new necessities of a hotel, a series of very precise and careful interventions were required. The old structure also gains an entirely new identity with a new wrapper, a frosted glass box of million less rectangular glass panels floating several feet from the original facade. Sandwiched between the new and old facades are the original balconies and new corridors.
An interstitial space was created between the two skins, which works as a climatic and acoustic buffer, regulating the gain/loss of heat and shielding the private spaces of the hotel from the hectic urban environment of its surroundings.
From a distance, the clean new facade appears to be an expressionless mask, but this impression is undone at closer range as the shadows of walkways and balconies and their inhabitation become visible. Small, randomly distributed unfrosted lines and rectangles are the new facades only adornment. These strategically stingy transparent slots give each room controlled views to the city beyond, framing the desirable and screening out the unsightly. At night, the entire building appears as a lantern with a changing checkerboard pattern of illumination, varying with the occupancy of the rooms.
The new services and amenitiessuch as a swimming pool, gym, sauna, bar, and restaurantwere added to the roof on two superimposed planes platforms- which seem to be floating above the existing structure.
The rooms themselves, looking outward to two planes of floor-to-ceiling glass (the inner transparent, the outer translucent), are imbued with natural light all day while maintaining complete privacy. The decor of the rooms mirrors the austerity of the outer enclosure: only a bed and a cantilevered plane of glass that serves both as a desk and a table occupies the space, with everything else) concealed behind a polished paneled wall. This minimalist aesthetic enlarges the experience of the otherwise compact rooms.
The ground floor is occupied by a continuous space that opens into the street that serves both as lobby and restaurant for the guests.