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Radisson SAS Athenee, Djerba, Tunisia

Issue 39 Oct / Nov 2007 Retail : Hotel


The London based lighting design practice MBLD recently completed this resort hotel project where the focus was very much on the creation of mood and atmosphere with light.

Located on the island of Djerba close to the southern border of Tunisia the Radisson luxury resort comprises 296 contemporary style rooms and suites, four restaurants, three bars and a large spa together with pool deck and a beach. MBLD’s scope included lighting design for all the areas. The project was partly refurbishment and partly new built with a new beach front restaurant building and a new spa building added to the existing complex. The island of Djerba is maybe best known as one of the filming locations for the film Star Wars and the existing Tunisian palace style hotel building with curved shapes and columns conforms somewhat with the image created by the film. The design intent however was not to evoke associations with extra terrestrial life styles but rather to create a place of discovery with a mix of spaces offering their own ambience and visual stimulus.
The overall design concept was created by Henry Chebaane from Bluesky Hospitality, a design consultancy specialising in holistic concepts for hotel environments considering everything from interior colour schemes to uniforms, background music, food offerings etc. This gave the lighting design a great starting point and a scheme was created where lighting was to support and enhance the overall vision through use of subtle tints of colour and shadow occasionally emerging as the main focus. Decorative fixtures as well as the all important accenting of selected architectural features featured heavily. 

Mokka Lounge
As an example of the use of colour tints the primarily white Mokka Lounge area with comfortable sofas for chilling out were top lit with light lavender. At floor level decorative fixtures were placed giving warm amber light. This combination allows the decorative lights to appear to be lighting the space whilst the lavender top light gives peoples’ skin a healthy glow. A great place to show off your newly acquired tan!

Mokka Patio
A different mood is created for the adjacent Mokka Patio where directional lighting shines through timber mouscharabieh screens bringing shadow patterns on the stone floor while xenon striplighting creates a silhoutting glow for the lower part of the panel. The area is themed with clusters of floor standing lanterns adding to the principle of dappled broken light patterns. Almost every light source has a Rosco glass colour filter, however the overall appearance remains that of warm white. A giant locally manufactured chandelier designed by Anne Perie with hammered metal discs creates a centre piece for this vast space. Site tests were conducted throughout the design process to determine the final colour hues and tints. For example when uplighting the Mokka Patio columns it was discovered that the curiously named “Bastard Amber” colour filter from Rosco brought the texture and colour of these particular columns out in a most suitable way. The same colour came through as the winner for the exterior façade lighting. Maybe the slightly pink edge of this particular amber made it seem so perfect among the sun burned earth and sand of Djerba.

Turquoise restaurant
Opposite the Mokka Lounge across the landscaped pool deck area sits the newly built Turquoise restaurant offering al fresco dining directly on the beach. Here cooler and richer colour hues dominate. The central water feature which glimmers during the day in the strong Tunisian sunshine is turned into a reflection pool at night with seven flambeaux from Sugg lighting with large dancing flames creating a dramatic environment. Deep indigo blue lighting is projected onto the pool to contrast with the flames and the rest of the ambient lighting comes from simple column mounted up and downlights allowing the flames to remain the true focal point. Special variation of a trimless recessed downlight with both diffused and directional light was developed with Delta Light for this space. Turquoise background glow with warm white accent lighting cutting through completes the picture.
Flamingo lounge club and restaurant
An Andalusian lounge club and restaurant, Flamingo is fashionable and trendy with chic lounge music promising a modern oriental experience. A key part of the concept was to introduce recessed uplighters into a timber deck with a large enough diameter to work as a “mounting base” for shisha pipes. Colour change fixtures with diffused 300mm diameter glass were programmed with a palette of cool whites, pinks and magentas to support the overall colour concept for the area. The light then travels through the glass shisha pipe lighting up the smoke inside creating a private light show for each smoker. Internally illuminated furniture and rich ambient light adds to the special mood of this outdoor night club space.

Thalasso Spa
The trends in spa design have moved from what once was a bright and airy clinic like ambience to a highly atmospheric, almost celestial sanctuary like experience. The Thalasso Spa within the Radisson SAS hotel complex is no exception. Highly contemporary yet leaning towards traditional Tunisian building methods, this new building offered great opportunities for theatrical mood evoking lighting. The fact that MBLD had a chance to be involved since the beginning meant that the lighting could be more integrated into the architecture and hence somewhat different in principal to the refurbishment areas. Most ambient lighting is achieved with small slots and coffer details letting the warm white light to spill from the edges and corners of the architectural volumes. A traditional Hammam steam room with salt water wading pool form part of the guest experience. This inherently dark space with dark stone finishes throughout is lit with minute fibre optic uplighters recessed into the bench detail. The ambience relies on this light reflecting back from the dark brown finishes. The space manages to be incredibly dark without feeling menacing or disorientating. The space (and the lighting designer’s PI insurance) is probably saved by two accented water features which give the area focus and that much needed presence of relative brightness. Upstairs from the Hammam a saltwater swimming pool stretches from inside onto a roof terrace. The effect is echoed with floor recessed linear uplight detail running the length of the pool accenting the adjacent wall and filling the interior section of the area with a glow of colour. Timed slow changes to the colour hue are used again within a predetermined limited colour palette.


Radisson Radisson Radisson
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