LIFE

Experiencing the future of urban hospitality

DIMITRIS ATHINAKIS

TAGS: Exhibition, Tourism

The future of urban hospitality is on display at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Street through December 4.

The rooms at the Benaki annex are the projects of the recipients of the top three awards – Leonidas Papalampropoulos (Greece), Joao Prates Ruivo (Portugal) and Sara Navazo Saez De Arregui and Edorta Larizgoitia Andueza (Spain) – in a Pan-European competition organized by international architecture review DOMES under the title “Room 18: The Design of a Typical Hotel Room.”

“On the one hand, it activates a dialogue between architects around the globe, and, on the other, it offers travelers the opportunity to go beyond tourist package deals,” DOMES publisher Prodromos Papadopoulos told Kathimerini in reference to the project.

A total of 582 creators from 17 countries tabled 262 visions for the future of urban hospitality in an effort to address an increasingly asked question: Are we tourists or travelers? This is precisely the question that cities and hospitality professionals are attempting to answer these days, in their efforts to adapt to visitors’ new requirements. As far as Athens is concerned, there is a tendency toward rebranding and reviewing the city’s identity – something which the hospitality sector could not ignore.

According to Giorgos Tzirtzilakis, a member of the international competition’s judging committee, the participants were “invited to construct what [leading late Greek architect] Aris Konstantinidis used to call a ‘Vessel of Life,’ while at the same time they also revamped the value of interior architecture, which has been overlooked in Greece over the last few years, downgraded to simple decoration through taps, door handles and lamps.”

Besides highlighting the importance of interiors, the competition also achieved something of equal value: A fresh look at “products that sell,” especially in a country like Greece, which boasts a “heavy tourism industry,” shows that the discussion is moving toward the “unorthodox” – just like vacation time – a desire to escape from daily routine, to experience something entirely different. This lies at the core of the notion of city and professional hospitality infrastructure rebranding – which would further explain the explosion of Airbnb, which promotes personal experience.

The competition’s top winner, Papalampropoulos, is particularly interested in the idea of utopia. “My room is a commentary on the present as well as the near future, when the notions and the technology surrounding natural light will become an increasing concern of ours,” he told Kathimerini. Inspired by the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris, his room is billed as a fusion of interior and exterior areas.

According to Tzirtzilakis, both the competition and the award-winning proposals provide a fresh view of the future, a vision which had been lost amid the chaos of the ongoing crisis. “When you enter the logic of keeping your acquis, you lose sight of what comes next.


For more information, visit www.benaki.gr.

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