The fu­ture of ur­ban hospi­tal­ity show­cased at the Be­naki

Athens mu­seum host­ing three award-win­ning ho­tel room de­signs with novel in­te­ri­ors which ad­dress the re­quire­ments of trav­el­ers to­day

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY DIMITRIS ATHINAKIS

The fu­ture of ur­ban hospi­tal­ity is on dis­play at the Be­naki Mu­seum’s Pireos Street through De­cem­ber 4.

The rooms at the Be­naki an­nex are the projects of the re­cip­i­ents of the top three awards – Leonidas Pa­palam­propou­los (Greece), Joao Prates Ruivo (Por­tu­gal) and Sara Navazo Saez De Ar­regui and Edorta Lariz­goitia An­dueza (Spain) – in a Pan-Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion or­ga­nized by in­ter­na­tional ar­chi­tec­ture re­view DOMES un- der the ti­tle “Room 18: The De­sign of a Typ­i­cal Ho­tel Room.”

“On the one hand, it ac­ti­vates a dia­logue be­tween ar­chi­tects around the globe, and, on the other, it of­fers trav­el­ers the op­por­tu­nity to go beyond tourist pack­age deals,” DOMES pub­lisher Pro­dro­mos Pa­padopou­los told Kathimerini in ref­er­ence to the project.

A to­tal of 582 cre­ators from 17 coun­tries tabled 262 vi­sions for the fu­ture of ur­ban hospi­tal­ity in an ef­fort to ad­dress an in­creas­ingly asked ques­tion: Are we tourists or trav­el­ers? This is pre­cisely the ques­tion that cities and hospi­tal­ity pro­fes­sion­als are at­tempt­ing to an­swer these days, in their ef­forts to adapt to visi­tors’ new re­quire­ments. As far as Athens is con­cerned, there is a ten­dency to­ward re­brand­ing and re­view­ing the city’s iden­tity – some­thing which the hospi­tal­ity sec­tor could not ig­nore.

Ac­cord­ing to Gior­gos Tzirtzi­lakis, a mem­ber of the in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion’s judg­ing com­mit­tee, the par­tic­i­pants were “in­vited to con­struct what [lead­ing late Greek ar­chi­tect] Aris Kon­stan­tini­dis used to call a ‘Ves- sel of Life,’ while at the same time they also re­vamped the value of in­te­rior ar­chi­tec­ture, which has been over­looked in Greece over the last few years, down­graded to sim­ple dec­o­ra­tion through taps, door han­dles and lamps.”

Be­sides high­light­ing the im­por­tance of in­te­ri­ors, the com­pe­ti­tion also achieved some­thing of equal value: A fresh look at “prod­ucts that sell,” es­pe­cially in a coun­try like Greece, which boasts a “heavy tourism in­dus­try,” shows that the dis­cus­sion is mov­ing to­ward the “un­ortho­dox” – just like va­ca­tion time – a de­sire to es­cape from daily rou­tine, to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing en­tirely dif­fer­ent. This lies at the core of the no­tion of city and pro­fes­sional hospi­tal­ity in­fra­struc­ture re­brand­ing – which would fur­ther ex­plain the ex­plo­sion of Airbnb, which pro­motes per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.

The com­pe­ti­tion’s top win­ner, Pa­palam­propou­los, is par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in the idea of utopia. “My room is a commentary on the present as well as the near fu­ture, when the no­tions and the tech­nol­ogy sur­round­ing nat­u­ral light will be­come an in­creas- ing con­cern of ours,” he told Kathimerini. In­spired by the Av­enue des Champs-El­y­sees in Paris, his room is billed as a fu­sion of in­te­rior and ex­te­rior ar­eas.

Ac­cord­ing to Tzirtzi­lakis, both the com­pe­ti­tion and the award-win­ning pro­pos­als pro­vide a fresh view of the fu­ture, a vi­sion which had been lost amid the chaos of the on­go­ing cri­sis. “When you en­ter the logic of keep­ing your ac­quis, you lose sight of what comes next.

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