Friday, September 14, 2012

Hotels of the future: will they be comfortable?

Whenever I see articles with propitious titles like "Hotels of the Future" I already know it will be all about renderings of buildings that visionaries like Fritz Lang or Ridley Scott imagined long before there were such things as easily available desktop rendering programs. 

Don't misunderstand me: some of the proposals that are floating around are fabulously inventive and they do push the envelope of the built environment ( Hotels Of The Future: 7 Architectural Stunners On The Horizon.)

Zaha Hadid's Dorobanti Tower - Bucharest

My issue with these images is that what seems to impress so much is only the result of very controlled studio experiments, that so often get diluted as they approach feasibility. And outside industry conferences, or the usual tech talk, few people really talk about what the experience of a hotel will be like 30 years from now.

One thing I am sure: it will increasingly be about choices that relate to our own comfort. The choices might be between service and independence, or between human connection and pre-determined selections, or between random ambiances and perfectly controlled environments, but I have no doubt they will relate more to human "stuff" than to building shapes.

There is one thing that architects can't imprint into these buildings at the edge and that is things like a sense of history, or a sense of comfort, or the homely notion of relaxing in a space that takes care of us. The surrealist french writer Boris Vian wrote that music can alter the "roundness of room corners". I think that what hotels feel like is what will really impact our comfort in a world full of tech.

So I wonder if we should be talking about the hotels of the future in these terms, or if we should be talking instead about the ones that will be able to create that sense of unexpected and inner traveling. I have a few favorites, some that I have been to and others that I dream of visiting, and here they are (in no particular order).

The Saint James Paris (France)

Vidago Palace Resort (Portugal)

Fasano Punta del Este (Uruguay)

The Upper House (Hong Kong)

Amangiri (Utah, USA)