Contract - 25hours Hotel

design - features - hospitality design



25hours Hotel

19 September, 2012

-By Michael Webb


The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is Germany’s largest port, with a proud tradition of independence dating back to the Middle Ages. A bold plan to redevelop its HafenCity quarter, situated right on the harbor, is still a work in progress, but completed portions have already formed a vibrant waterfront community. It seemed an ideal location for fledgling boutique company 25hours Hotels—who has developed unconventional design hotels in Frankfurt, Zurich, and Vienna—to open a new property. To honor the area’s heritage, the company settled on a maritime theme and hired British designer Stephen Williams, a Hamburg transplant since 1994, to lead an interdisciplinary design team. Bruno Marti, head of communications for 25hours Hotels, says, “Williams and his team brought in a storyteller, a specialist in visual communications, and a set designer to provide creative input.”

Setting the stage
Stephen Williams Associates drew on its experience designing workspaces for creative clients such as music and advertising companies, as well as a series of showrooms for Bosch and Siemens household appliances. The 25hours concept, however, goes further than any previous Williams project. “We wanted to create a web of meaning with signs and symbols referring to seafaring and harbor life, “ says Williams. “A place where old and new stories come to life.” Another goal was to create an inclusive atmosphere, where a hip young road warrior and an elderly couple visiting the big city for a show would feel equally welcome.

For six weeks, Williams hosted workshops with colleagues and consultants to develop the “marine nomad” theme. He likens the process to the pre-production of a movie, in which ideas are turned into a script and each scene is designed, storyboarded, and fitted together to create a compelling drama. It was a challenge for 25hours and the designers to convince the Frankfurt developer and his investors that their vision was viable, but they won over skeptics and spent a full year researching old sailors’ stories, making these an integral part of the design. “To use architecture as a form of communication, one must realize the symbolism of objects,” Williams explains. “Spaces are made from many elements, and you have to understand the relationships between forms, colors, light, and surface.” 

A delicate balance between reproducing and reusing
The funky mix of vintage furniture, rusted steel, and reclaimed wood evokes the romance of a sailor’s life, but also ensures a high level of sustainability. Williams insisted that materials be locally sourced or fabricated wherever possible, though because Germany has few vintage furniture outlets, they crossed the border into Belgium to find the pieces they needed. The team aimed for a timeless design that would not go out of style with durable elements that would withstand hard use and last for 20 years. Williams observes that too much sustainable building is driven by dogma. “It can be more environmentally friendly to use a new locally made material than to recycle something that needs to be transported, cleaned, and cut to size,” he says. Sustainable strategies range from specifying standard-size panels to minimize waste, to making the most of windows to draw natural light deep into the building.

Since Hamburg is full of old warehouses, many of which are protected landmarks with deep floor-plates that would be difficult to adapt, the hotel selected a new seven-story building with a brick facade for this 25hours Hotel. Inside, steel, concrete, and stenciled lettering are combined with wood boxes, carpets, and marine memorabilia to achieve a stimulating mix of austerity, nostalgia, and warmth.

Adjacent to the lobby is the restaurant-bar, named Heimat to recall the yearning of a homesick sailor. Hamburg-based shipping company Hapag-Lloyd donated a shipping container that contains one of the conference rooms that can double as a dining space for the restaurant. The movable container wall is hoisted up to the ceiling to allow access. The Vinyl Room is a popular music lounge where guests can spin favorite discs and grab a beer late into the night. A rusty container on the rooftop houses the hotel’s sauna, adjacent to a punching bag and an outdoor shower.

Each of the 170 guest rooms, intended to have a cabin-like feel, has a wall niche for storing personal effects and toiletries, and a sea chest that opens up to reveal a desk, reading lamp, minibar, power outlets, and an interactive log book.

As Williams admits, “architecture can only be the backdrop for human activity and not an end in itself.” He and his team have provided a durable stage set in which guests can act out their fantasies, and as Marti observes, “Stephen Williams Associates created not just a design hotel, but a place with a Hanseatic heart and soul.”


Key Design Highlights
  • To create a timeless look that also recalls past eras, the designers selected an eclectic mix of furnishings, materials, and objects with maritime undertones.
  • Elements such as reclaimed wood, repurposed shipping containers, and vintage furniture tie into the sustainable and funky design theme.
  • A playful piece in all the guestrooms, sea chests cleverly conceal a writing desk, power outlets, a reading lamp, and minibar.
  • The design concept was developed like a film with a script and storyboarded scenes.

25hours Hotel
Designer Stephen Williams Associates
Client 25hours Hotels
Where Hamburg, Germany
What 64,583 square feet 
on seven floors
Cost/sf $67




25hours Hotel

19 September, 2012


courtesy 25hours Hotel

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is Germany’s largest port, with a proud tradition of independence dating back to the Middle Ages. A bold plan to redevelop its HafenCity quarter, situated right on the harbor, is still a work in progress, but completed portions have already formed a vibrant waterfront community. It seemed an ideal location for fledgling boutique company 25hours Hotels—who has developed unconventional design hotels in Frankfurt, Zurich, and Vienna—to open a new property. To honor the area’s heritage, the company settled on a maritime theme and hired British designer Stephen Williams, a Hamburg transplant since 1994, to lead an interdisciplinary design team. Bruno Marti, head of communications for 25hours Hotels, says, “Williams and his team brought in a storyteller, a specialist in visual communications, and a set designer to provide creative input.”

Setting the stage
Stephen Williams Associates drew on its experience designing workspaces for creative clients such as music and advertising companies, as well as a series of showrooms for Bosch and Siemens household appliances. The 25hours concept, however, goes further than any previous Williams project. “We wanted to create a web of meaning with signs and symbols referring to seafaring and harbor life, “ says Williams. “A place where old and new stories come to life.” Another goal was to create an inclusive atmosphere, where a hip young road warrior and an elderly couple visiting the big city for a show would feel equally welcome.

For six weeks, Williams hosted workshops with colleagues and consultants to develop the “marine nomad” theme. He likens the process to the pre-production of a movie, in which ideas are turned into a script and each scene is designed, storyboarded, and fitted together to create a compelling drama. It was a challenge for 25hours and the designers to convince the Frankfurt developer and his investors that their vision was viable, but they won over skeptics and spent a full year researching old sailors’ stories, making these an integral part of the design. “To use architecture as a form of communication, one must realize the symbolism of objects,” Williams explains. “Spaces are made from many elements, and you have to understand the relationships between forms, colors, light, and surface.” 

A delicate balance between reproducing and reusing
The funky mix of vintage furniture, rusted steel, and reclaimed wood evokes the romance of a sailor’s life, but also ensures a high level of sustainability. Williams insisted that materials be locally sourced or fabricated wherever possible, though because Germany has few vintage furniture outlets, they crossed the border into Belgium to find the pieces they needed. The team aimed for a timeless design that would not go out of style with durable elements that would withstand hard use and last for 20 years. Williams observes that too much sustainable building is driven by dogma. “It can be more environmentally friendly to use a new locally made material than to recycle something that needs to be transported, cleaned, and cut to size,” he says. Sustainable strategies range from specifying standard-size panels to minimize waste, to making the most of windows to draw natural light deep into the building.

Since Hamburg is full of old warehouses, many of which are protected landmarks with deep floor-plates that would be difficult to adapt, the hotel selected a new seven-story building with a brick facade for this 25hours Hotel. Inside, steel, concrete, and stenciled lettering are combined with wood boxes, carpets, and marine memorabilia to achieve a stimulating mix of austerity, nostalgia, and warmth.

Adjacent to the lobby is the restaurant-bar, named Heimat to recall the yearning of a homesick sailor. Hamburg-based shipping company Hapag-Lloyd donated a shipping container that contains one of the conference rooms that can double as a dining space for the restaurant. The movable container wall is hoisted up to the ceiling to allow access. The Vinyl Room is a popular music lounge where guests can spin favorite discs and grab a beer late into the night. A rusty container on the rooftop houses the hotel’s sauna, adjacent to a punching bag and an outdoor shower.

Each of the 170 guest rooms, intended to have a cabin-like feel, has a wall niche for storing personal effects and toiletries, and a sea chest that opens up to reveal a desk, reading lamp, minibar, power outlets, and an interactive log book.

As Williams admits, “architecture can only be the backdrop for human activity and not an end in itself.” He and his team have provided a durable stage set in which guests can act out their fantasies, and as Marti observes, “Stephen Williams Associates created not just a design hotel, but a place with a Hanseatic heart and soul.”


Key Design Highlights
  • To create a timeless look that also recalls past eras, the designers selected an eclectic mix of furnishings, materials, and objects with maritime undertones.
  • Elements such as reclaimed wood, repurposed shipping containers, and vintage furniture tie into the sustainable and funky design theme.
  • A playful piece in all the guestrooms, sea chests cleverly conceal a writing desk, power outlets, a reading lamp, and minibar.
  • The design concept was developed like a film with a script and storyboarded scenes.

25hours Hotel
Designer Stephen Williams Associates
Client 25hours Hotels
Where Hamburg, Germany
What 64,583 square feet 
on seven floors
Cost/sf $67

 


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