arh. Mara Vergu-Bogoescu, arh. Bogdan Gyemant-Selin, arh. Matei Bogoescu, arh. Alexandra Cosma
- Stefan Prigoreanu - DAAC Studio&OBLIC Studio - interior design / architect - Alexandru Chirita - Undizain Architecture - concept design / architect - Raluca Bratu - DAAC Studio&OBLIC Studio - interior design / architect - Mihai Rotaru - DAAC Studio&OBLIC Studio - interior design / architect - Andrei Nicolescu - DAAC Studio&OBLIC Studio - interior design / architect - Andrei Zdetovetchi - DAAC Studio&OBLIC Studio - photo - Cristian Enache - S.C. Construcții Erbasu S.A. - construction site manager / engineer - Aurel Dumitrana - S.C. Construcții Erbasu S.A. - project manager / - Alexandru Chirita - 4B Consultanta Arhitectura - architect / facade concept design
The project is located in Baneasa neighbourhood, in the north area of Bucharest, on one of the main streets connecting the international airport Henri Coanda to the city centre.
This area has been developed with residential blocks of flats in the 1980’s and remains almost untouched, with a few exceptions that display a generic non-descript architectural style. In close proximity, 500m south of the site, a new business district emerged in the first decade of this century, transforming the area in one of the busiest destinations in the capital.
On the corner of the main street (Capitan Alexandru Serbanescu) and a smaller neighbourhood street (General Stefan Burileanu) we were asked to redesign an existing hotel (which had been itself realised in the 1990s through a reconversion of two existing structures of unfinished residential buildings).
The main challenge at the beginning of the project was the spatial configuration of the initial structures, which were more suitable for a residential layout rather than a hotel layout. The same problem extended to the facades, which were designed in the typical language of residential facades in the 1990s, which made the function undetectable, expressed only by a turquoise hotel sign in the corner facade.
The existing hotel's back yard was a pure residual space, disconnected from the streets and the interior reception spaces - lobby, restaurant - did not interact with the sidewalk, being hidden behind massive walls.
One aspect we cherished and tried to enhance trough the new design was the corner position which made the hotel visible and reachable from both streets.
The scope of the redesign was to transform the existing hotel into a modern, open and attractive hospitality building that would be operated by an international brand and successfully compete in the Horeca market of Bucharest. Its position made it ideal for business travelers (due the proximity to the business district), but also to young millennials and city breakers.
Albeit being part of an international hotel brand usually implies extensive standardization of the interior and sometimes even the exterior of the buildings, the best solution for this reconverted hotel was a non-standardized layout which allowed for more flexibility and creativity in the use of space. This fact was decisive in the choice of the partnership structure, finally leading to a collaboration between owner Erbas and the brand Ibis Styles, which operates hotels that are unique in theme and design.
The new building had to have an attractive and high-performance facade, state of the art MEP and HVAC, a clear and simple interior layout and a very good spatial connection to the street-level.
Although initially limited interventions were considered in order to cut investment costs, it was soon clear that a major refit was necessary to reach the brief requirements.
1st STEP - STRIPPING THE BUILDING
The transformation began by stripping the existing building of its facade, inner partitions, HVAC and MEP installations and exposing the bare structure which presented significant imperfections and signs of flawed execution, due mostly to the technology and capabilities available in the 1990s.
2nd STEP - REINFORCING THE STRUCTURE
The financial feasibility of the project depended on the possibility to increase the hotel capacity (to reach the minimum number of rooms of a branded hotel), and therefore the brief required the construction of an additional floor (spatially justified by the corner position). This requirement led to a mandatory reinforcement of the main structure in order to withstand the weight of the additional floor, but also to repair existing flaws and imperfections, to make the building safe according to present codes and standards.
3rd STEP - RECONFIGURING THE INTERIOR SPACES
As mentioned before, there were serious limitations for the interior layout imposed by the spatial configuration of the structure, which split the hotel in two separate buildings, with floors situated at different heights communicating only at the lobby level, making the operating / maintenance daily activities very difficult.
Therefore, the first challenge was to connect these two buildings and realize a continuous, flowing design which would make this separation invisible. This was achieved by cutting the load-bearing structure at the contact point and creating a continuous corridor linking the existing elevators for each floor; the differences in height were solved using ramps or stairs.
The second challenge was to increase the efficiency of the layout, while creating rooms with higher spatial qualities and better natural light. This was achieved by creating an ergonomical and efficient design for typical rooms and apartments (standardizing the bathroom module) and by reconfiguring the facade including large floor to ceiling windows.
While the initial layout had 13 rooms and 1 apartment per floor the new scheme had 13 rooms and 3 apartments, providing better comfort, natural lighting and functionality.
Finally, the third challenge was to reconfigure the ground level plan including more functionalities and opening it to the public realm. This was achieved by clearing all internal non-structural partitions and defining 4 main areas: reception area/lobby, gastronomy area, business area and administration area. All this new areas (except the administration area) were exposed to the sidewalk through an all-glass facade ensuring the continuity between outside and inside.
The interior design concept sought to integrate both the personal history of the owners (very successful entrepreneurs in the construction industry) and the idea of the work in progress in form of a pop-up construction site. This idea is recalled through interior signage colors and furniture design in each space of the hotel.
The Ibis Styles Bucharest Erbas Hotel displays the world of construction from the basics in a contemporary, urban version. The hotel’s minimalist, industrial interiors, which are lent warmth by bright, positive colours, afford a glimpse into the heart of a city where history is imprinted in the buildings. The warning stripes on the floor, which imitate scaffolding, the elevators, the wooden formwork and the untreated metal elements all harmonise with the optimistic colours, creating a cosily joyous atmosphere. This unequivocal allusion to the primary motif, construction, rendered in a form that is far from obvious, not only delights the eye, but also let the eye see what is normally left hidden.
4th STEP - A NEW FACADE
The new facade was a key component in the design, both as an expression of a new contemporary aesthetic and as a high-performance envelope providing more natural light to the hotel rooms and better views to the city. The first concept sought the wrapping of the two structures in one unifying skin, but this idea was soon abandoned in favor of a more subtle and contextual approach. The final concept divided the facade into 3 parts that use distinct languages - the front facade, the corner facade and the back facade which generate a subtle transition from the street frontage (black) to the corner (black and light gray alternating pattern) and the back (simple light gray);
The corner facade is the most flamboyant, designed to address the scale of the main road. The structure of the facade is realized in light ISOPAN sandwich panels which produce minimum loads on the existing structure while providing excellent thermal protection and the exterior cladding in ETERNIT panels.
Aesthetically the facade has a tripartite composition: the lower part is completely glazed connecting visually the interior with the sidewalk; the middle part is configured as an abstract checkboard pattern of dark and light panels, with alternating windows, generating a continuous surface wrapping around the corner, while the upper part is configured as a recessed dark strip topped with a protruding roof.
The front facade has the same structure as the corner facade, while its design is simpler, finished with a stark dark cladding which aims to attenuate the complex volume of the existing structure, a minimalist display of large alternating openings and simple details.
The back facade is a classical non-ventilated facade, finished in light gray painting, with alternating windows, recalling the design of the other facades. In this case the design sought to preserve as much of the existing facade in order to minimize the intervention.
The new concept of Hotel Ibis Styles represents a contemporary approach to both reconversion and hotel design, in the specific context of Bucharest.
The main points which make this project a sustainable design are represented by:
The reuse of an existing structure, reinforced and reconfigured to serve contemporary purposes is one of the key elements of the design;
THE INTEGRATION WITH THE PUBLIC REALM
The new design of the hotel sought to maximize the integration between the structure's public access areas and the public realm. This is particularly important in this area where public services like cafes and restaurants are hard to find, and the hotel could easily become a gathering point in the neighborhood.
THE RECOVERY OF RESIDUAL AREAS
One of the most ambitious targets of the project was the elimination of all residual areas, especially the space situated in the back of the hotel, which is visible from the residential area. A second stage of the project could accommodate in this area a multilevel parking, but for now this space was cleaned and reconfigured as a level parking space with new areas of greenery.
THE FLEXIBILITY/RECYCLING/EASY MAINTENANCE
The design presents a high level of flexibility allowing for future adaptations with a minimal impact.
The extensive use of elements which can be recycled both for exterior cladding and the
interior finishing / furniture, as well as the industrial style interior which facilitates maintenance and intervention are main features of the sustainable approach to the design.
THE FUTURE SPIN-OFF
Creating an attractive hotel in this mono-functional dormitory area could spin-off generating more investment and diversification in the neighborhood, which would increase the liveability, economic output and vibrancy of the area.