Architype Dialogue presents
What was the most difficult issue about working within this building type or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought in your project?
The main challenge was to find opportunities for innovation with a building type that’s generally quite formulaic. Hotel planning follows a lot of guidelines, from room module dimensions to overall configurations. Given these constraints, we sought to find occasions for creative formal development. An unexpected challenge with the Xintiandi Hotels was incorporating a significant masonry component into the cladding, so that the buildings would be sympathetic with the surrounding context. Since we wanted to keep the tower forms simple to accommodate an efficient hotel floor plate we focused on the expressive possibilities of a stone clad wall.
Did this project expand or evolve your role as an architect in any way? In general, do you feel that the role of the architect is changing on current projects?
Every project evolves our role as architects. In this case, we learned more about lighting systems, as the client requested an interesting use of lighting for the building – specifically LED lights integrated into the patterned facade.
How is your building possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in technology and society inspired new thought and solutions?
The aforementioned lighting element is an innovative trend. More generally, though, a society trend demonstrated by this project would be how the building type is used. In recent years, hotels have been seen as urban amenities, as destinations for dinner, shopping, social and business events, rather than simply a place to sleep. Therefore, the building program for Xintiandi Hotels – which entail restaurants, indoor & outdoor lounges, retail, bars, clubs, and meeting rooms – are evidence of what’s expected in today’s inner city hotels.
In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and incoming young architects? In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?
Incoming young architects are especially adept at computer modeling, and at exploring the capabilities of 3D design in a sophisticated way. We were able to develop this fairly complex wall system three-dimensionally thanks to our team of skilled, young architects.