Reinventing Hotel Schweizerhof

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    The historic Hotel Schweizerhof in Bern, Switzerland has officially re-opened following a two-year redesign and renovation programme by the UK-based interior design practice, MKV Design. Behind the heritage façade, all the guestroom floors and a large part of the ground floor public spaces are new and fit for the decades to come; however, their style and ambiance is very much within the spirit of the old hotel – noble, cosmopolitan and belonging to its location. The Lobby area was stripped out. This gave the designers an opportunity to re-imagine the spaces at the front of the hotel which overlook one of the busiest parts of Bern and create a welcoming, luxurious retreat from the moment of entering the building. The main entrance was relocated to leave the lounge intact and, within, zones of seating were defined – a pragmatic solution for quite a small lobby area where every inch had to be made to work, while also suiting to today’s more informal lifestyles. The seating along the front façade is now flanked by a double layer of sheers that by way of lighting allow guests inside to see out but which discretely filter views looking into the hotel. The low ceiling and cluster of columns behind the reception desk remained, so the designers absorbed this structure into a series of cosy alcoves with comfortable tub chairs and bookshelves giving the space a comfortable, residential scale.

    All the new architectural elements in the Lobby are classical since they derive from the building envelope – the black and white marble floor, the classically coffered ceiling and the ornate metalwork – but these are confidently combined with a number of specially designed contemporary elements. There is the alabaster reception desk with its unconventional form and theatrical lighting above which a swirling digital art installation suggests a galactic explosion, an oblique homage to Albert Einstein who once lived in Bern. Throughout the hotel, traditional materials have been re-fashioned into something new. Echoing the sculptural shape of the reception desk, a striking modern bronze panel in the entrance lobby borrows on the traditional use of bronze in Jack’s brasserie.

    Continued on page two

    Daniel Fountain / 19.07.2011

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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