Laozi, the ancient Chinese philosopher, said that when making a clay vessel, what we really need is the emptiness formed by the vessel. The same applies to the shape of a room, where what we really need is the emptiness, not the walls. Emptiness is space and it dictates the real value for any building. Function in turn, is the activity within the space.
‘Ace your Space’ is how we refer to the imaginative and versatile use of space. It’s an interesting and intelligent way to proactively respond to the rapid change in social and economic environments.
Interactive Design Trends
One of the hottest trends in hotel design is how to reimagine the lobby – the first area that the guest steps into.
Lobbies, more than ever, serve as a focal point of interaction in the entire hotel. So, technology is available with plug-ins and comfortable seating, a drinks corner, a coffee section, any number of places to meet and discuss, a stand-up counter, and some greens to rest the mind.
The new Destination Resorts culture offers full recreation and sports areas within the hotel, nursery, playroom, shopping arcade and even a combination of meeting space, corporate conference facility and ballroom.
This creates the ability for a resort to transform into an all season, multi-use destination that can attract different segments of guest traffic, from business to leisure and family events.
In order to accommodate change and adjust to changing needs, hotels and public spaces must work with interactive areas for meetings and interaction for communities and guests alike. Spaces need to seamlessly shift between entertainment and work and be prepared for conversion into different functions to integrate with current lifestyles.
Because guests hunger for new experiences and spaces, the Hospitality Industry needs to embrace a more sustainable design solution to allow frequent design changes within timelines and budgets. Adaptive reuse is a practical solution.
Versatile space offers multi-functional options and allows fixed zones to merge. These are alive spaces, where visitors of any age can meet, explore and experience a number of cultural, recreational and commercial activities.
Hotels and Hybrid Spaces
Multi use of space serves a multitude of purposes under clever curation and delicate design.
Hybrid spaces are in vogue, because they use an area to its full potential and because they present interesting and innovative opportunities for design.
Hotels often create collaborative workspace in the same space as a private social club. Apart from a fully-serviced
workspace – offering executive suites, showcase areas, conference rooms and boardrooms – hotels can merge an all-day casual dining area, bar and lounge – not to speak of an extension to a rooftop overlooking the Indian Ocean or a green forest. The real winner could be the addition of an ultimate entertainment centre.
Leading the Way
Last year, IHG made waves when they patented their new hotel room available at Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts brand, because it was so thoughtfully created. Called the “WorkLife Room” it is part of a multi-million dollar renovation plan and offers a scientifically integrated welcome space, work area and sleeping zone.
For that matter, so do newer boutique properties like the upper mid-tier Blooms brand, where rooms maximise space and comfort and open out to common areas offering refreshments
and practical utilities.
The Fern Group has similarly created a niche with its eco-friendly and well designed interiors.
Take the ITC Hotels, which have created hospitality benchmark standards of their own with their Green Luxury initiative, blending technology with sustainability in virtually every property that is constructed ground up.
Or the Taj, with its remarkable ability to offer a business experience in a resort property and vice versa. Almost like a
flag bearer, the Taj has successfully morphed luxury heritage palaces into wedding and convention centres, complete with full business facilities.
Radisson Hotels’ easy and effortless offer of new age technology solutions well-knit into its rooms and public spaces across its portfolio creates multi-functional spaces that shift from business to casual without disturbing the balance and look of the space.
Going its distinct way is the Hyatt brand, which is literally a valued brand on account of its lively interactive bespoke spaces which have been precursors to the change now sweeping the industry. Part art and part science, the Hyatt’s efficient use of creative design illustrates its ability to deliver value through its use of space.
Delivering unique experiences through iconic and sophisticated buildings and spaces, the Leela has a well thought-out strategy of creating multiple use of space within its luxe environment. The Leela design story revolves around customer delight and plugs into the latest technology to pull together work and leisure facilities.
Marriott, on its part, has gone so far as to launch a Hotel Design Program with Cornell, New York. Design is at the core of the Marriott experience.
Aiming at customer satisfaction, the brand applies innovation and technology to appeal to the millennial customers of today. The Marriott has built- in features that facilitate guest experience, be it work or entertainment, through virtual and augmented reality, AI and robotics, to increase user experience and brand performance.
Urbanisation and Technology
In the face of rapid urbanisation and constant change in lifestyle and the market, it becomes difficult to predict the requirement of the potential user for a space. Hotels and buildings have often to respond to the change simultaneously. That’s where versatile space is needed.
Consider how much digitised society has changed the way we live. Form changes constantly with changed functions. Banks were built as imposing edifices, but today they have morphed into convenient ATMs. As the process of digitisation continues to erode space and time, it forces us to make function more adaptable.
Today, for instance, multi-faceted units are winners. Co-working spaces have become commonplace, just like retail
stores provide coffee and food alongside their products.
Versatile space helps to develop sustainable hotels and public spaces. The more adaptable the space that is constructed, the more valuable it will remain all through its life span. Instances of multi-use of space to accommodate new functions simultaneously, while maintaining its own character, is the order of the day.
Ingeniously undesigned communication between communities makes the space more vital and interesting, more human and more organic.
Linkages of Space and Time
When you link spaces, it becomes enjoyable. So, a dining and work area can be linked as easily as rest and recreation are as contrary though they may sound. One of the most attractive linkages is access to nature. Imagine the change in people’s personalities when activities take place in sunshine and fresh air!
There are several instances in our metros and hotels of multifunctional amenities which unite diverse community members, all of whom converge – activists, artists, academics and social entrepreneurs. This interaction acts almost like an incubator – creating innovation, exchange of knowledge, shared experience and all forms of experimentation.
Imagine how inspirational such connected thinking can be!
Imagine the kind of opportunities it creates for partnerships cutting across boundaries.
To Be or Not to Be
Multi-use spaces are everywhere in cities where defunct warehouses and mills now offer hubs of energy through creative spaces let out for meetings, lectures, dining, bars and party/social events.
Public spaces can be wonderfully integrative. An example can be found in Winnipeg, Canada. Here, a riverside site comprises a farmer’s market, several dining options, children’s theatre and public entertainment.
Another instance is the High Line in New York City, which is a creative combine of public art and local vendors within a park visited by residents and tourists alike.
Similarly, a dynamic and multi-faceted structure in Burgundy, France, houses an art and conference centre, offers intergeneration recreation and includes a Tourist office.
Interesting spaces can include a quirky-style space called “Her Majesty’s Pleasure, “ in downtown Toronto, Canada, where the most happening place is a cafe, boutique, beauty salon and bar, all integrated in one flowing space.