While huge projects, such as a hotel with an artificial rainforest, grab the market’s attention there is a growing emphasis in Dubai on smaller scale designs.
Architects say the coming of Expo 2020 to the city has meant an increased demand for accommodation not always associated with its reputation for luxury.
Three or four-star hotels are becoming a feature across the hospitality market as it seeks to take on board an influx of visitors who will not want to splash out on luxury living – but instead, are drawn to the region for leisure and retail.
“As the Dubai Expo 2020 approaches, I feel there will be a much greater demand for hotels which can accommodate travellers on a budget. The event is aimed at people who want to experience the world and all the cultures which are on offer,” explained Daousser Chennoufi, architect and CEO of Drawlink Group, which did both the exterior design and the interiors of the seven storey Ibis Styles Hotel in Dubai.
He said: “During the last 10 years a lot of concepts regarding five-star luxury hotels have been explored, but I feel the trend now is towards three and four stars. Visitors to the Expo 2020– they may be students for example – will not have the funds to stay at top range hotels so they need to be provided for. Also, Dubai hosts a large number of business events and lower cost accommodation would encourage companies to send several delegates, rather than just one or two.”
And as every square meter built adds to the construction cost, developers and owners are increasingly asking design teams to maximise usable space. But designers are also looking to create attractive interiors at a lower cost by using such things as natural light, corridor pockets with seating areas or which change direction, to create a different feel from a purely linear alignment. While the most cost-effective room is square in shape lighting and colour schemes as well as surfaces and materials used can impact the perception of space as much if not more than the actual room dimension.
Salim Hussain of Atkins feels the efficient design of a hotel building happens at scales from large structure, services, to small, standard room layouts, furnishings.
He said: “Spatially the Hotel can be broken down into the key areas of front of house (FoH), back of house (BoH) and parking. The efficient layout of these areas allows the maximum number of rooms to be developed while ensuring a positive guest experience that draws people to the Hotel time and time again.
“The FoH areas provide the first point of contact with the guest’s arrival on site. The guest experience starts at the valet drop off and continues throughout the hotel including check-in, movement to and experience of guest rooms, dining and other facilities such as pool, gym and speciality restaurants. These are all prime areas of the hotel and need to be laid out to maximise return. Thus efficient layouts and routes between these areas are critical.”
Vital to deliver this positive experience is the design of the BoH areas, which house all delivery, preparation, administrative, plant and maintenance and welfare areas for the hotel.