In the past, designing and constructing a hotel was a simpler feat. Uncomplicated hallways and unremarkable exteriors were often par for the course. However, as the 21st century rolled around, there was increased demand for more experimental designs that could blow competition out of the water visually.
To get a sense of how far structural engineering for residential buildings has come in recent years, we can start by taking a look at some of the most inspirational modern hotel designs around the world.
Credit: The Telegraph
This is the Hotel Marqués de Riscal in La Rioja, Spain. It was designed by Frank Gehry, the American-Canadian architect whose most famous work is the spectacular Guggenheim Museum across the country in Bilbao.
Striking for its impressive colors and unconventional exterior, it is definitely reminiscent of Gehry’s famous museum in the north of Spain. It blends in beautifully with its green surroundings and makes for a memorable stay for any of its guests.
Credit: The Telegraph
This is the Ariau Amazon Towers in Manaus, Brazil. Situated in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, Manaus is a popular location for tourists wanting a taste of the jungle.
The designers of this hotel have done a great job of having their creation blend into the environment perfectly. Green-tinted structures are connected by walkways that allow for exploration and views across the rainforest canopy. Also, rooms are designed with balconies and treetop swimming pools to allow for maximum enjoyment of the world’s biggest tropical jungle.
Of course, you are likely to be considering plans for a much less experimental hotel design than the ones shown so far. Either way, getting in touch with a structural design consultancy to analyze your plans is always a good idea.
Structural Engineering Consultancy
Let’s spend a little bit of time going over exactly how to approach the consultancy side of hotel design. It is always worth getting in touch with experts on design to check the feasibility of your plans.
Once you have the basic plans down to the ground, MEP engineering services are also there to give you a hand with the mechanical, electrical and plumbing side of things. They will be able to advise how electricity will be fed into the building, as well as map out the building’s piping network. Essentially, MEP design engineers can take care of some of the finer details when it comes to approving your hotel’s overall design.
Going to a structural engineering consultant will give you a second opinion about the architectural visions you have for the hotel, including which materials will be used and whether they will be appropriate for the proposed designs. They will also be able to advise on the layout of the hotel from the foyer and dining area to the bedrooms, letting you know if they could be optimized at all.
What to consider when designing a hotel
Place a big emphasis on the exterior.
The outside of your hotel is going to be the first impression for many people. It should also give hints about what kind of service your guests can come to expect inside the hotel. The materials and shapes you use will go a long way to defining the identity of your building.
The appearance of your hotel would usually fit into a particular category. Some of the main design categories include:
- Roman architecture. This often makes use of domes, arches and spherical objects as centerpieces. Just take a quick look at the Colosseum to remind yourself how arches can feature so heavily in Roman design.
- Gothic architecture. With roots in France and England, gothic buildings are often defined by being tall and full of immaculate, detailed features. An easily identifiable example of this type of design would be the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. This is a largely European style.
- Modern architecture. More modern buildings make use of tough materials like concrete, steel and iron to design strong structures that are capable of becoming skyscrapers. You would often find these in cities, where buildings are designed with maximum human capacity at front of mind.
- Innovative architecture. Here, the designer places a focus on using modern materials in an unconventional way. Instead of aiming to erect the structure as quickly and efficiently as possible, the architect might spend time considering how to best use sunlight or creating sophisticated exterior designs that look truly unique.
As you may imagine, hotels that place focus on traditional techniques and draw inspiration from the Roman or Gothic movements are likely to be considered a little more ‘fancy’ than those that employ modern architecture.
For example, imagine a hotel designed for busy travelers, located next to a train station. Guests might feel perplexed to step into a complex, Roman structure when simply needing somewhere to sleep for the night. Also, a hotel like this would not complement its more modern surroundings in a city center.
Alternatively, picture the reverse scenario. A newly-married couple is going to stay in a countryside hotel, quite a distance away from any other buildings. The last thing they would hope to find is a plain and functional modern hotel that would not look out of place in a bustling city.
These examples are quite extreme and simplistic, but it should help you to understand the importance of designing a hotel with the right type of exterior appearance in mind. Not only does the hotel need to look attractive from the outside, but its personality, communicated through its architectural style, needs to fit in with its surroundings.
Consider the best building type for your hotel.
The method of constructing your hotel will be closely linked to your design elements. Are you aiming for a functional, rectangular city-center hotel in which many of the rooms will be identical in layout? In that case, a modular design method might be best.
Modular construction describes the process of having rooms or other components of your hotel built off-site before being transported to the location. This means that you are able to oversee 24/7 construction of your hotel rooms in controlled factory conditions before they are put together in modules at the site of the hotel.
The main benefit of modular construction is that building your hotel in a factory will reduce the chances that your project is delayed by unfavorable weather conditions or disputes over the construction site. You will simply receive completed modules from the factory floor, ready to be accommodated at the hotel site by crane.
Modular construction can cut your construction costs by up to 40%.
If you are aiming for maximum efficiency and flexibility but still want your guests to enjoy sizable rooms, consider the tri-arc design.
A smart design, the tri-arc assures maximum usage of available space and two important features for your guests:
- Large dressing and bathroom areas due to the wedge shape of the rooms. Note how the rooms get slightly wider as they get closer to the core.
- Every room in the hotel has a view.
Another option is the vertical cylinder structure.
A cylinder design comes with cost benefits. It is often a cheaper design option since it takes up less surface area on the ground. Also, each guest room comes with a view and the design lends itself to installing impressive rooftop entertainment such as a swimming pool or restaurant.
How to pick the right construction materials
If choosing materials is not really your area of expertise, consider consulting an MEP engineering firm or a structural engineering consultant before making your final choices.
Here is a quick overview of some of the main materials you could choose from, as well as the benefits of each.
- Brick. Using brick is quite cost-effective and they can also be more attractive than more modern alternatives, especially when used for indoor features. They are damp and heat-resistant, and their individual nature means they can be arranged to form attractive patterns.
- Concrete. The ultimate modern building material, it is widely used in construction due to its strength, pliability and durability.
- Steel. Using steel for your hotel’s outer shell adds another layer of strength since it is resistant to corrosion and can be manipulated into different shapes.
- Glass. Modern designs are becoming more experimentative with glass. It is an attractive design element, usually encased in wood or steel, that can help a designer find the best natural light solutions for a hotel.
Other factors to keep in mind when designing a hotel
Of course, the majority of your brainpower is going to be spent on your building’s style, layout and materials. However, there are definitely some smaller things that could be just as crucial to determining the success of your hotel.
- Be hyper-aware of the entrance. It is somewhat common knowledge that it takes all of seven seconds for a guest to form a first impression of a hotel. Your entrance area and reception hall are likely going to be first points of contact, so they need to do a great job of feeling welcoming and communicating the overall experience they can expect. Also, make sure that your entrance is easily visible! You do not want a guest’s first impression to involve struggling to find the way in.
- Rooms should always be spacious and make sense. The bedrooms need to make travelers feel relaxed, so they are not the place to get too inventive with design or layout. They will expect a bedroom that leads on to a bathroom. Also, if possible, designate areas for baggage and clothes so the guest can keep the room feeling as tidy and serene as possible during their stay.
- Don’t let the common areas become overlooked. The lounge and dining areas might be the first places the guests see when they check in, and the last place they see before checking out. These areas should also communicate the identity of the hotel and receive as much of your care and attention as the bedrooms.
- Pay attention to the bed. The entire purpose of your hotel is to provide a bed for the guests. This can often be lost in the design process! When designing your hotel, you will need to pick materials for your beds at some stage. Guests will always have a more favorable view of a hotel that provides comfortable beds with natural, breathable materials and perhaps even a choice of pillows on arrival!
- Think about corridors. Sometimes, a hotel might have well-designed rooms that are light and airy, only to be connected to dark and dreary corridors. Consider adding design features that make corridors a pleasant place to walk. Guests should not be met with a long, boring tunnel. Also, corridors can be a place for you to save some energy by installing motion-sensing light bulbs and reducing the heating to a sensible level.
Designing a hotel is a huge task fraught with potential complications and endless choices to be made. Ensure you give yourself the best chance of success by talking to a structural engineering consultancy and an MEP engineering firm so your ideas can be given the green light by experts.
Jack Vale is a writer for Scaffold Store, a scaffolding manufacturer and retailer.