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Fletcher Hotel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Issue 73 June / July 2013 : Retail : Hotel

ARCHITECT: Benthem Crouwel LIGHTING DESIGN: Livingprojects

Sitting on the edge of the A2 highway, the gateway to Amsterdam, the Fletcher Hotel is a forward looking building in a nation that has just opened a new chapter.

Amsterdam in recent months has undergone something of a re-birth, with the re-opening of the famed Rijkmuseum after a tumultuous refurbishment and the surge of orange flag waving patriotism that followed the abdication of the country’s long serving monarch, Queen Beatrix, in favour of her son, the comparatively youthful, Willem Alexander.

Renewal can also be seen in the city’s suburbs, particularly in Amsterdam’s southeast, an area that has seen a burst of re-development, of which the eye-catching new Fletcher Hotel is just the latest example.

Standing at 60 metres, the tower is visible for miles around, making for an impressive sight in a famously flat country with not many tall buildings to rival it. It is the first time Fletcher Hotels has built a new project from scratch and its location, flanking the highway A2, a main artery into Amsterdam, turns the building, designed by Benthem Crouwel the innovative architectural practice behind projects at the Anne Frank House and the Bergbau-Museum in Germany, into an impressive marker at the gateway to the Venice of the North.

The creation of an omnidirectional structure, with an expressive façade and a compact footprint were the aims of the project, and this ambition resulted in the drawing up of a circular building with a central core for elevators, stairs and service shafts. 120 rooms encircle the staircase and lift shaft, while on floor sixteen, five boardrooms have been arranged in a manner that allows them to be linked together. Service areas and technical spaces are situated in the basement, in the pedestal or on the roof, while the lobby and coffee shop are situated on the ground floor.

Situated on the lofty eighteenth floor the ‘Skyrestaurant Pi’, and the ‘Skylounge Pi’ on the floor below offers guests an impressive panoramic view over Amsterdam.

Parking spaces at ground level have been integrated into the landscape and can be found under a roof covered in plants and flowers, which blend the structure into its environment, part of which features a small river and some grassy marsh land.  This is just one of many examples of a strong sense of ecological awareness that runs throughout the project’s design.

In recognition of the building’s high regard for sustainability and corporate responsibility the structure has been awarded the Green Key Gold award, which recognizes the achievements of hospitality organizations in environmental preservation. The application of a subterranean thermal storage system and the instillation of façade insulation were other factors that led to this honour.

The interior features, which were developed by Dutch designer Robert Kolenik, were also designed with environmental concerns very much in mind, in line with the designer’s own “Eco Chic” signature. The piano, for example, in the bar, is an exclusive Whaletone. Shaped like a whale and made out of sustainable materials, the proceeds from the ivory free instrument’s considerable asking price (usually in the region of £75,000) are donated to charities that fight to save animals from the clutches of the ivory trade. As well as this, Eco-board made from agricultural waste is used for the chair frames, while duvets and pillows have been stuffed with feathers from organic chickens, creating a particularly eco friendly luxury.

Boasting a fully glazed façade, the building’s many screens and round windows lend a distinctive yet restrained appearance to the building and the architecture of neighbouring buildings is reflected in the circular motif found in the hotel’s façade pattern. Blue colourings and shaded fittings provide a prominent outer shell to the building creating a colour palette that causes the building façade to appear as if it is mirroring the sky.

Apart from the coloured glass that gives the structure its distinctive hue, light fittings are also used to good effect.

At night the building is partially lit by the hotel room’s illuminated windows, but also by light fixtures installed between the façade shells, which make the Fletcher Hotel visible and identifiable long after sunset.

The Breda based Livingprojects was responsible for the exterior lighting design, a company well versed in producing creative light solutions that are both environmentally sustainable and energy efficient.

After completing the design process it was decided by Livingprojects that the Philips Color Kinetics eW Graze was the fixture best suited to the Fletcher Hotel and its dynamic appearance. This narrow, but powerful, fixture was chosen, in part, because it would not hinder the window cleaning system that has to be able to go up and down the building and over the lighting fixtures.

A total of 80 Philips Color Kinetics eW Graze fixtures were placed on the structure, spaced equally with 40 fixtures installed at the bottom of the building and 40 at the top.

The outer shell of the structure is comprised of printed glass screens that are mounted on a solid lightweight inner façade with integrated fixed windows. The transparent shell acts to insulate the building from noise pollution, an important addition, given the structure’s location near a busy motorway.

With its ecologically minded nature and modern design, the Fletcher Hotel is a forward-looking structure, in a nation that is currently embracing a new era.


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