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Athenaeum Hotel, London, United Kingdom

Thursday 28 Apr 2011

A breath of fresh air

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Purcell Miller Tritton breathes new life into the Athenaeum Hotel 

Unsympathetic alterations in the 1970s left this Art Deco Hotel looking tired and dated. Despite its prominent position on Piccadilly, it was losing out to its competitors. The client wanted to rejuvenate the hotel, transforming it into a distinctive London destination. The brief was to convert the guest suites into light contemporary spaces, to create a presidential suite with panoramic views over Green Park, to upgrade the public areas and to remodel the exterior.

Addressing the Brief: The most critical aspect of this project was to provide a dramatic visual transformation - both internally and externally - to enhance the hotel's character and prestige. The Hotel's south-facing aspect onto Piccadilly meant that the team had to address problems of solar gain and noise pollution to improve room quality and guest experience. Extensive internal reordering was required, and this created considerable structural challenges, along with the challenge of a creating a captivating external focal point.

Enhancing Visitor Experience: The small aluminium sash windows were replaced with floor-to-ceiling contemporary Juliet balconies and French doors with solar, thermal and acoustic efficient glazing to fill the rooms with natural light. The bedrooms were updated with colour and warm textures. The new Presidential Suite boasts a walk-on balcony with spectacular views across the London skyline. The public areas were enlivened with inspiration from the building's character.

Integrating with Context & Community: Working in conjunction with renowned botanist Patrick Blanc, the team created a dramatic nine-storey living wall for the façade, the tallest in Europe. The wall uses a carpet of recycled clothing to create kangaroo pouches for the root balls of 226 global plant species with an integral irrigation system. The plants improve the air quality of the busy London street, integrate with the aesthetic of Green Park opposite the hotel and add to the biodiversity of central London. The wall was voted number 31 of Time Magazine's Top 50 Best Inventions of 2009 and its popularity and success has generated a blog.

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Purcell Miller Tritton

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