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Design


metres. The design team removed the ceiling and dug into the ground to build three floors, connected by stairs. This allowed the facade to be preserved while creating a comfortable and modern interior.”


Hotel one The idea for the hotel first arose in 2010, a couple of years after the financial crisis. Large amounts of property had been left vacant, and while most enterprising designers were drawn to the empty office buildings, Space&Matter saw the potential in bridgekeepers’ old abodes. Pitching the idea to the municipality, they created gummy sweets in the shape of each of the houses, and were met with the kind of enthusiasm befitting a box of confections. Throughout the pandemic, the hotel has been


a hit with resident Amsterdammers who want to experience their city in a new way. It is first and foremost a bid to preserve the city’s heritage – visit each cottage in the order it was built and you’re taking a tour through 350 years of architectural history. But it is also a means of working towards a more sustainable future. “With the construction sector responsible for 39% of the world’s CO2


emissions, it is essential that


architects come up with innovative ways to reuse existing buildings rather than undertaking energy- intensive demolition and construction processes using new high-emission materials,” says Haccou. “SWEETS serves as an innovative example of reuse and sustainable construction, while protecting the bridge buildings from decay or demolition.” SWEETS is one of a wave of new hotels to be built around the principles of adaptive reuse. Rather than restoring a shabby old hotel to its former glory, adaptive reuse involves sprucing up a building that started life as something different. As well as being a quirky branding strategy (who wouldn’t want to stay in a hotel that had once been a fortress, brewery, nunnery or jail?), there are clear environmental benefits. If you build a hotel from scratch, producing the


construction materials will consume vast amounts of energy, and lead to debris that ends up in landfill. Conversely, if you use a building that’s already there, you are able to take advantage of its ‘embodied energy’ – the energy already expended during its life cycle. You’re treating the building as a critical resource, worthy of the same care and consideration you’d give a greenfield site. That, at any rate, was the thinking behind the


various luxury city hotels that started out as banks or theatres – ornate old buildings that have been spared destruction. The Ned in London (formerly the Grade I-listed building Midland Bank) is a good example, with marble columns and bank tellers’


Hotel Management International / www.hmi-online.com 57


countertops preserved in its design. The building was empty for nearly a decade before transformation efforts got under way. We also might cite the brutalist tower in Connecticut, previously owned by IKEA, that is being converted into a zero- net energy boutique hotel.


Cranes today At quite the other end of the spectrum are smaller hotels like TheKrane in Denmark (a former coal crane) and the ContainHotel in Czechia (built from discarded shipping containers). Built in 2015 by Artikul Architects, ContainHotel


is a pop-up hotel for ‘modern nomads’, mounted on old railway sleepers. The scheme is sustainable and self-sufficient, with a built-in water reservoir, waterless toilets, a recycled wood awning and birch plywood finishings. The idea is that it can be easily taken apart and moved to a new location. Then there’s the Kruger Shalati Train on a Bridge Hotel, which, true to its name, consists of retrofitted 1950s train carriages on a bridge. High above the


Above: SWEETS hotels offer a unique snapshot of Amsterdam.


Below: Kortjewantsbrug is a circular bridge tower that gives a 360° view of Amsterdam’s celebrated waterways.


Opposite page:


Amstelschutsluis is one of the more isolated complexes, straddling the Amstel river.


All: Mirjam Bleeker


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