Hilton Frankfurt Airport, THE SQUAIRE
Wednesday 17 Apr 2013
JOI-Design's objective for the Hilton Frankfurt Airport was to provide a haven within THE SQUAIRE, one of the world's most "mobile" pieces of real estate linking an airport, railway and two highways - adjacent to the leafy Frankfurt Municipal Forest. Located inside this iconic "horizontal skyscraper" shaped like a futuristic aircraft, the gold LEED-certified design responds to Hilton's brief to introduce a sleeker style for its flagship while combining luxury and leisure for business travellers.
The envelope's 34,000 m2 size and three-dimensionally rounded shape presented both a huge challenge and a great opportunity to balance hi-tech vibrancy with low-tech organic forms through the exploration of juxtaposed ideas: motion vs. rest, streamlined technology vs. raw nature, business formality vs. casual comfort, etc. Two innovative solutions celebrate the building's shape and translate the public spaces into a human scale. The first is a pair of "golden wings" extending over the lobby's reception, lounge and bar to reduce the volume and filter natural light from the atrium. Fabricated from sinuous bronze metal mesh stretched over curved steel frames, they cushion the acoustics and set the scene for the flowing forms used throughout the lobby to create relief from the commotion of Europe's third largest airport.
The second innovation is the "Globe", a glimmering 470 m2 x 9 m high "building-within-the-building" that accommodates function spaces. From the highway, its irregular mirrored glass mosaics appear as nightclub lights. Illumination from the flowing recesses in the 570-seat ballroom's ceiling is reflected by Swarovski crystals inset into perforated timber panelling - a striking acoustics solution that also hides ventilation outlets.
In The Fifth, Lounge & Bar, calming symbols of nature play against the machinery-filled bustle of THE SQUAIRE. Indirect lighting casts subtle shadows across the walls' rippled "fins" to foster a sense of refuge within this "grotto". A curved central bar clad in a cloud-like textured surface of Corian is illuminated by sparkling glass displays.
Due to THE SQUAIRE's curved form, each floor has a different footprint resulting in an immense variety of room types amongst the 249 guestrooms and suites. Prefabricated bathrooms installed as complete units necessitated absolute precision in the designers' planning. In the Presidential Suite, an oversized mirror with a reeded ebony frame doubles as a room divider, anchoring a vanity table on one side and drawers on the other; the bathroom's mother-of-pearl framed mirrors and whirlpool lit by a Swarovski chandelier reflect the cosmopolitan setting.