Hotel ME Barcelona by Dominique Perrault Architecture

Designed for the Habitat group in Barcelona and now managed by ME, this hotel integrates the two dimensions that compose the identity of the Catalonian capital: the horizontality of its grid, legacy of the Cerdà plan, extending all the way to the sea, and its dynamic verticality exemplified by the Sagrada Familia and Mount Tibidabo looming over the sight.

The tower is composed of two volumes stuck together: a “cubic” building acting as a counterpoint and a tower 120 m high, a rectangular parallelepiped cut lengthwise in two. A cantilever, 20m above street level, marks the entrance: on the Avinguda Diagonal it serves as the Hotel’s identifying signal.

The way these boxes are placed against each other is key to the distribution of the variousfunctions. While the volume located at the back gathers the hotel’s collective services, the tower, broad but not deep, houses the 259 guest rooms, each with a clear perspective of the scenery. This “enormous screen that focuse on the city and the landscape” is cut into opaque panels of distinct texture that cover the entire facade, making it come alive in the day and the night.

The hotel is compound by 259 guest rooms(192 supreme rooms, 44 superior rooms, 16 suites, 6 grand suites, 1 sky suite, 4 double rooms with acces for disabbled people), a fitness, a restaurant (300 m2), a conference centre (1 150 m2), a swiming pool and terraces, a bar, salons, administration and underground car park.

While Barcelona can be « read » as a horizontal city, built along the geometric guidelines of the Cerdá plan, it can be also read as a vertical city with examples of architecture like the “Sagrada Familia”, the Olympic Village towers and above all, the suburbs set on the hillside around the telecommunications tower and Tibidao. This reading of nature of Barcelona is led us to conceive a building with a base inserted in the horizontal city while the vertical body and the crown are inscribed in the vertical city. This morphology creates a play of volumes, with a “cubic” building acting as a counterpoint behind as well as with the tower, a rectangular parallelepiped cut lengthwise in two, with one of the halfs shifted skywards. This rupture of a “perfect geometric block” creates a movement of form and volume that bestows an urban sense on the insetion of tower in the horizontal city.

An arrangement of elementary forms creates the building’s reference signs: a 25 meter high canopy in the style of a loggia points to the Tower; a protuberance in a form of a cantilever creates a “crest” in the vertical city skyline; the cube shifts back to free up a a small square like a terrace that opens onto Calle Lope de Vega. This creates a new point of reference in the more recent part of the Diagonal, with the tower standing out against the sky.

The combination of these urban signs gives the Tower a real capacity for architectural interaction with the present and future context of the area. The functional organisation is the logical consequence of its architectonical situation. At the base of the building are the activities linked to movement and meeting such as the hotel lobby, the restaurants, the meeting rooms, the swimming pool and the day and night bars. The main unit holds the individual and double rooms, and the suites that open onto the sea or the mountain, with views towards the Sagrada Familia.

The interior design and comfort of the hotel are based on the generous views from each room, like a giant screen overlooking the city landscape. This screen is articulated by a series of smaller screens in the manner of television sets, which form a “wall of images”. The result is a building clad in an armour of aluminium sheets.

This protecting skin is unchangeable: it is produced from thick sheets of anodised aluminium-dense, stiff and corrosion-proof. It is a living skin because it “plays” with the light: shimmering on one side, shaded on the other, transparent at the corners of the Tower, opaque and closed along the crestwith a saw-tooth finish on the edge of the terraces.

The tower will stand out in the Barcelona skyline like a metal needle; a lively, happy “jewel”, with red, blue and green glass distributed at random along the facade like a giant stained glass window. At night, the tower turns into a “urban la tern, a luminous symbol of the Diagonal.

A hotel-tower is a prominent building in the city. Its identity, style and mark should be “unforgettable”, in the sense of recollection and memory, both for those who use it and those who discover its presence. The desire to belong to the place, to be part of the local activity, has led us to the idea of a vestibule perforated by a public landscape.

The hotel lobby is entered along a short gangway above a garden, like a fragment of nature that extends the presence of the “urban park” on the opposite side of the Diagonal. This layout interacts closely with the urban life of the district. The hotel becomes a visiting point and shelter, a place with fresh, modern, character in constant movement.

Architects: Dominique Perrault Architecture
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Partner Architects: Corada Figueras Arquitectos
Local Architect: AIA Salazar-Navarro
Engineering: Perrault Projets (architectural engineering) BOMA Robert Brufau i Associats (structure), AIA Salzar-Navarro (fluids), Querol & Colomer (acoustics consultant)
Project Manager: Tag Management
Technical Controller: Socotec Iberia
Client: Hoteles Sol-Melia
Total Floor Area: 29,334 sqm
Completion: 2008
Photographs: André Morin, Miguel de Guzman



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