RAU and Powerhouse Company developed H2Otel, a luxurious and completely sustainable hotel for Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The project, a prototype for luxury hotel typologies, is shown at the National Design Triennial ‘Why Design Now?’ at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. More images, a video and architect’s description after the break.
Introduction How to make a hotel tower more sustainable? As a typology, the modern hotel is at odds with the concept of sustainability. Most of the time they are empty and unused, yet they have to be fully accessible, comfortable and pleasurable all the time. Guests usually enter their rooms in the evening. Large glass planes provide stunning views but also heat up the rooms when no one is there. The biggest energy consumer in hotels is usually the cooling system. So, why are the facades of most highrises the same on all sides, despite their different exposure to sunlight? Apart from that, modern hotels are increasingly build according to global formulas in brownfield locations. How do we create a local sense of place while using the particular efficiency if the hotel typology? Water Water is an important theme of the H2Otel. Situated alongside the Amstel river, the hotel is overlooking the historic center with its numerous canals, the docks on both banks of the River IJ and, on a clear day, the North Sea. But the name, H2Otel, does not only refer to its scenic views. Water is the building’s main carrier of energy. Through oxy-hydrogen generators water can be used for heating, cooling, cooking and the generation of electricity.
Efficiency Fluctuating occupancy rates are an obstacle in reaching efficient climate control, especially in large hotels. In order to improve efficiency, an adaptive, sensor-based climate system monitors and controls the indoor climate in real time and for each room individually. It recognizes the number of occupants in a room and adjusts the level of conditioning accordingly. Conditioning is automatically switched off in empty rooms. This climate system helps to save approximately 40% of the building’s energy consumption. While innovative technology is an important asset in achieving energy efficiency and carbon neutrality, inventive design solutions make a crucial difference in keeping the building’s demand for energy at a minimum in the first place.
Fanning out facade The design of the hotel unfolds around one basic principle: the fanning out pattern of the facade. The dense arrangement of wooden lamellas on the south-facing facade protects the building from overheating at mid-day and during the warm season. The interval of lamellas gradually decreases towards the northern side, thereby opening the building up to morning and evening sun as well as spectacular panoramic views over the historic center of Amsterdam. The closed facade towards the south does not only block of direct sunlight and heat, but also the noise of the adjacent train tracks. The compact verticality of the southern facade turns the tower into a landmark and gives the area the desired urban density. The openness of the north side, on the other hand, embraces its unique location and connection to the center of the city.
Light The facade is made of thermally treated softwood. The edges of the wooden facade panels are clad with anodized aluminum, reflecting light into the rooms and creating the ‘golden glow’ known from the paintings of the Dutch masters. A large atrium intersects the building. At the lower levels, the atrium serves as a spacious and inviting entrance hall. On the upper-floors, the atrium provides a clear, light-flooded routing to the rooms. The floor plans maximize the view of the historic center. As the tower becomes more slender towards the upper levels, a number of roof terraces offer some of the city’s most exciting outdoor retreats.
Innovation While the H2Otel might appear to be a high-tech building, almost all of the design principles and technical applications used in the building are already known to the market. If any innovative aspect can be found in the building, it stems from our determination to take responsibility for the long-term impact of our design. To adopt an attitude that seeks to surpass legal and moral expectations rather than breaking technological frontiers.