a monthly round-up of the world's best interiors and design stories
Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou, China
Friday 11 Jan 2013
Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou, a stunning new architectural landmark in China's southern provincial capital and the brand's 88th property worldwide. Remarkable for both its soaring height and tapering avant-garde design, the newly opened hotel is set to become a new benchmark for interior design in Asia. Rising 103 stories above the Pearl River, the Four Seasons Guangzhou occupies the top third of the new Guangzhou International Finance Center. The project is architecturally dramatic for its triangular tower, diagonal lattice and soaring, 30-floor-high atrium. HBA's interior design concept is striking, developed to push the boundaries of design and challenge perceptions of the classic hotel interior. HBA won an international competition to design the hotel. Every detail of the hotel's elegant yet ultramodern interior was meticulously planned and executed to ensure an exceptional guest experience. From the ground floor, guests take dedicated express elevators to the 70th floor lobby, where a dramatic three metre (ten foot) red steel sculpture by Australian artist Matthew Harding appears to float on a sea of watery glass, reflecting the astounding ceiling window 30 floors above.
The incredible naturally-lit atrium, surrounded by restaurants and rooms above, is higher than the top of St. Paul's Cathedral in London and New York's Statue of Liberty. The intricate textured screen made of woven metal wraps around the interior of the sky-high lobby. In a subtle reference to the hotel brand, the screen is themed around the four seasons, from spring in the basement to fall in the upper reaches. The artwork extends to edgy, modern Southern Chinese pieces by local artists and continues the theme of the four seasons from spring on the ground floor to winter at the top floor. For instance, Tian Bar on Level 99, the artwork is pure, white and ethereal in a fitting tribute to the heavens. A key challenge facing HBA was to match interiors with the complex structural columns featured in all public spaces and the hotel's 104 guest rooms and suites. Each boasts a unique floorplan as a result, with the building narrowing as it rises and columns intersecting at different points. The only constants in HBA's guest room interiors are the bathrooms and beds, positioned to offer unparalleled views of the Pearl River Delta and cityscape. Floor to ceiling glass windows additionally encourage guests to look right down. This design is naturally inspired by the 103-storey building we were given. HBA didn't want to close up the windows and deny guests the spectacular view.
Furniture is predominantly modern Italian, with contemporary Chinese art playing off elements of nature and culture. HBA created beautifully customized carpets that are watercolor like and evocative of the skies and clouds. Embracing this brief, HBA's objective was to bridge the gap between Four Seasons' "modern conservatism" style and the building's avant-garde architecture, with the vast, light-filled central atrium contributing to a particularly dramatic effect. Where guests check-in, they can look up and see beautiful patterning spanned across 35 floors of tapering diagonal glass. This lent itself to creating further patterns of angles and refractive elements in the interior design, from the handrails in the atrium - custom measured for each floor - to a dynamic skylight at the top, with angular black panels. The effect is magnified in interior corridors, with angled glass deliberately projecting outwards to "embrace the height". Nowhere is this sense of height more intense than from a bridge on Level 100, where a staircase projects into the void and glass floors look down 40 floors below to the lobby.