A panel discussion led by Middle East Architect editor, Nick Ames, dealt with the influence of architecture in hospitality projects, one of the main topics focusing on current trends in the market.
Entitled “Architecture, build and landscaping for the future”, the panelists came from different areas of architectural design, from structural engineering to design and development.
Speaking of recent happening in the hospitality sector, Chris Brown, vice president at HOK said that there are more tailored brands coming into the market that is starting to affect the interiors of hospitality spaces.
“I see a little more change on the interior design side with a more timeless, classic look and less extravagant interiors and more seamless integration.”
He added: “Technology is also something that is fully integrated in hotels today, to the extent where we are actually having to distract the guest since everyone is so heads down into their devices. They are looking for individual bespoke experiences but unfortunately all of us are living our lives almost virtually so that genuine experience becomes more and more important.”
Another trend, said Bart Leclercq, head of structures design at WSP, is the boutique movement with a rise of two to three star hotels that cater to a clientele with a smaller budget.
He also mentioned that refurbishment is also big with hotels at the moment, “probably because of the Expo 2020 but also because some of them have now been around for years and are looking for a make over and looking to see what other, more recent hotels are doing”.
Head of design and development at Meraas Holding, Karim Benkirane said that “from a developers standpoint, the new ‘it’ word that we are saying as a trend in the market is ‘transformational spaces’. The lobby is now not just the lobby, we have different kinds of travellers like millennial travels who are looking for spaces that are like living spaces and we see that different services like the bar and the concierge services all integrated into that lobby space. That also makes it a much more efficient space and much more directed to the rooms.
“I think from an interiors and architectural point of view, our clients are looking for more authentic spaces as well, stuff that’s tangible and honest with materials that are much more earthy. I think that there’s a confusion between opulence and luxury. One of the trend words that are in Asia is “barefoot luxury” and I think that you don’t really tend to see that here in Dubai but I think with the resort lifestyle you will see more of that in the coming years,” he added.