NEW Hotel by Campana Brothers
from the YES! Hotels:
“The project of re-NEW-ing the former Olympic Palace Hotel, a fixture on Filellinon Street, was all about establishing the right Brazilian-Greek connection. Leaving behind their traditional medium, the object, and venturing into the large scale, the Campana brothers put together a Workshop, involving Greek postgraduate students of architecture and design from the University of Thessaly. Chosen on the basis of their interest in green design and the latest recycling practices, the students injected more than a breath of fresh air.
Found objects and manual skills were combined with advanced technologies to create a NEW concept of space. Through this prism and the Campanas’ creative method of restoring, recycling and sharing, the re-design of NEW Hotel offers, in the end, novel interpretations and hybrid approaches to the use of pre-existing spaces. Items of furniture and objects of the modernist hotel, designed in 1958 by innovative Greek architect Iason Rizos, became works of art, as local materials and culture were reinterpreted and remixed.
In this creative process, everything became NEW. The re-configuration of hotel rooms, reception halls and restaurant areas was accompanied, at a different level, by a re-working of traditional and recurring themes of popular Greek culture: the Karagiozis shadow puppet, beads against the evil eye, and postcards from the 50’s to the 80’s. Nothing remained unturned. Chairs kept in storage were reprocessed, while favela constructions were made out of fragments of abandoned pieces of furniture, found in the hotel or collected from the street. Quirky bespoke furniture and handmade fixtures took pride of place in rooms and public facilities. A founding piece in the whole process was, in fact, the construction of life-size models, in collaboration with specialized craftsmen, cabinetmakers and artisans.
All the guestrooms from the 1st to the 6th floor enjoy natural day light and are completely soundproof. With their floor to ceiling windows, and solid bamboo floors and tables, they are faithful to the Campana exploration of space. Equally breathtaking are the bathrooms, replicating the creative use of materials and spaces. Washbasins take the form of ‘fragmented rocks’, playing with the painstaking assemblage of favela shapes, a theme reproduced throughout the Hotel. Some washbasins can even be mistaken for sculptures, located as they are separately from the shower room. Fragmented, full-length, gold shaded mirrors complete and complement the overall arrangement, while unusual materials, a golden polyester wash base or a solid brass washbowl create an exciting surprise element. Floor to ceiling bamboo walls, wood natural colours and opaque glassed elements create a truly tranquil environment. Bathrooms are decadently stocked with Kiehl’s or Apivita toiletries.
Each of the 79 guestrooms and suites is, in reality, set up as a living art installation for guests to relax in and enjoy. They all present a poetic re-working of Greek popular tradition, which develops around three themes:
KARAGIOZIS, a mischievous but much loved character from Greek folklore. In their reworking for NEW, the old shadow figures are carved, covered with gold and mounted on the room walls like a moving fairytale. Four different stories have been displayed, each highlighting the character’s adventures, Karagiozis Doctor, Karagiozis Sailorman, Karagiozis’s Wedding, and Karagiozis Astronaut.
POSTCARDS of old Athens, a nod to retro tourism executed with a very modern design twist. Arranged haphazardly on the room walls, they are a reminder of the now lost custom of sending travel souvenirs, replaced today by short emails and snapshots taken with mobile phones. the EVIL EYE, a bead charm used to guard against ill omen and bad luck. The traditional form of ‘Evil Eye’ motifs is revisited on a psychedelic note with rear-lit LEDs that form a starry sky on guestroom walls.”