Nijs de Vries
For the man of today, leisure is an activity he is incapable of. A fact that can be seen as the direct result of modern society. This incapability arises from the process of the total work-state our society is on its way becoming. A state that revolves around a universal utilitarianism that searches to convert everything to something with a useful purpose. All things considered not useful are undesirable and are therefore limited to a minimum, or even abolished.
Many are in search of an opportunity to escape this reality, to flee to a place where the individual only has to focus on himself: a sanctuary that gives the possibility of an attitude of inward calm and reflection. Hotel Salvation offers this redemption. Inspired on Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha a spiritual and bodily route are fitted into the hotel which guests can undertake. These routes of salvation are purposed to offer the individual a modern kind of enlightenment: leisure. For this reason people visit Hotel Salvation, to distance themselves from modern society and to rediscover mind and body.
The hotel is formed as a secular monastery which overtops the business district of Paris, a statement against the temples of capitalism that surround it. Passersby see a monolith consisting out of a large number of columns which open up high above. This monolith offers place for 1350 guests who spend their days in the hotel without leaving it. They inhabit the living floors, take care of their own food in the gardens and undertake both the spiritual and bodily routes of salvation. These routes address a number of themes that are aimed to help the guests in finding a state of rest, which are consecutively raising awareness, re-finding, contact and cooperation. After undertaking the routes the individual arrives on the top of the tower: a temple. He has distanced himself from society and looks upon it from a distance.
Who influences you graphically?
For this project I was influenced graphically as well as conceptually by the Italian group Superstudio. Especially the perspectives of Il Monumento Continuo made a strong impression on me. In these perspectives historic cities and landmarks are subdued by a monotonous superstructure converting the entire world into an anonymous suburbia. The quality of conveying a strong message with relatively little means inspired me while making the drawings of Hotel Salvation.
How relevant is the term Hotel in contemporary living?
During the design of the proposal, the way I looked at the term hotel was that as a place where people can escape to, a place where people can find refuge from their daily lives which revolve more and more around work. Hotels that offer refuge come in many different types, from the most standard type of hotel where people go to who wish to spend a weekend in a different environment to hotels that provide a larger range of facilities in order to offer guests a higher degree of disconnection with their daily lives.
However, these hotels provide no real refuge from the ordinary lives of their guests, they are mere an extension of it and only offer distraction. What is missing in the modern day hotel is the possibility to have real leisure, which Josef Pieper defines in his book Leisure, the Basis of Culture as “an attitude of non-activity, of inward calm and silence”. In this sense, the modern day hotel is lacking an essential component.
How could an external view of the proposal in relation to the city of Paris have reinforced the project?
Hotel Salvation is located in the center of La Défense, surrounded by a multitude of office blocks. Thousands of commuters will go by the hotel every day. In addition to that, its position on the outer end of the famous axis Louvre – La Défense will make the hotel visible by innumerable more inhabitants of Paris.
The latter combined with the fact that Hotel Salvation is a hotel of considerable size and appearance makes it no building to go unnoticed. With its monolith-like appearance it tries to convey a message to the people, to act as a reminder how their lives are determined by work. The monolith acts as a beacon in this environment, the passerby will look upon a seemingly solid mass, but when he looks up it will open up gradually and dissolve in the sky above. Thus, the exterior of the hotel tries to raise awareness from those who live and work around its premises.
What defined the type of views you choose to reveal the proposal through?
I chose two types of views to clarify the proposal. Since the hotel accommodates a large amount of different functions it was a priority to make sure that the design would be understood completely. I did this by producing a number of isometric views to display the relations that the spaces have as opposed to each other. Also, with isometric views it is possible to display materials and proportions of spaces objectively. In this way the general structure of the hotel becomes apparent.
For some spaces it was of particularly importance to clarify the perception and atmosphere I was aiming for. This is the case for the bodily and spiritual routes that are fitted into the hotel. Here I used perspective drawings to illustrate the desired effect. In accordance with the journey to enlightenment which guests are pursuing, spaces that are located at the lower end of the tower will look darker as the spaces are located higher in the tower the colors will be lighter. Until on the roof the temple seems to dissolve into light.
How do the silhouettes influence the image? What is their purpose?
Hotel Salvation concerns a hotel where guests pursue to take distance from their daily lives and worries. When an individual arrives at the hotel for the first time he has yet to commence his travel through the hotel and is thus still entangled in the city life: his silhouette is black as his spirit is heavy. However, after staying in the hotel for a period of time the guest will have taken distance from the city, in the drawings this is symbolized by an increasingly lighter silhouette. When the guest arrives at the temple on the top of the tower he will have completed his journey: his silhouette is white.
A second reason I chose for silhouettes instead of more lifelike people is for the fact that the silhouettes will allow any viewer to identify with the guests. The use of lifelike people will always, also when this is not intended, represent a specific group of people. Hotel Salvation is intended for any man or woman that feels the need for a sanctuary.
Nijs de Vries graduated at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the beginning of 2017, with a specialization in architecture. He believes that one of the greatest qualities of architecture is to provoke thought and feelings. The latter to be conceived with meaningful atmospheres and the use of craftsmanship.