3 0 0 S T E P S

Wednesday 30th May 2012

HOTEL 300 STEPS

That’s 300 steps to a tea room on top of a hotel.

Concept by James Moes, Ji Shon, MJ Kaiser, and myself for Tablet’s Rethink Hotels design competition.

View our project here and please vote for us! Voting is open for the next seven days.

Concept
300 steps to get outside of the city, within the city.

It’s an ascent and a preparation, a cleanse through circumambulation into the cella – a cup of tea in the sky. A ritual experience in an iconic space to bring together locals and travelers over a few cups of steeped leaves.

A glass facade allows those on the street to witness the experience. And vice versa, for those climbing to look back to the street. Each step gains a new perspective upon this urban landscape.

A spectacular sight, with an invitation to participate, to share the walk, a space, and a pot of tea.

Terunobu Fujimori’s tea houses and tea rooms are a real inspiration. They are often perched precariously or entered through a surprising trapdoor in the ceiling. The rooms, and the manner of arrival are integral parts of the experience of drinking tea. You become prepared for rest, meeting through a unique form of ascent – by a climb or a crawl. The 300 steps are an interpretation of this.

Approach
The cleanse that is internalized through ascent starts at the street. Sidewalk merges with a shallow pool of water in the shadow of the building’s form. Oversized stepping stones are interfaced within the the pool to connect the street with access to the hotel and for serendipitous contact between pedestrians.

The sound of running water draws a curtain upon the din of commercial and vehicular traffic. The calm experienced through distance above the street is brought down to the street through this auricular regulation. A gesture of invitation to locals and of welcome to guests. It brings us together. It calls you in.

The site and sound of this space replace the walls that would emphasize the transition from the street. Here the calm of the sound curtain carries you into the hotel. Transporting you up the stairwell, to reception, to your room, to the tea room; to a party, event, art installation; to a view, rest, sleep.

The Hub
This is the main hall, an event space and gallery. An impressive space lifted from the street, yet visible through the transparency of its walls and the grounding it gives to the rest of the building’s form. The space will be smartly programmed and inspirationally installed. It will accommodate rotating exhibits that are spatial, architectural, transcendent, and dangerously decorative.

Installations that take advantage of the space (impressive uses of ceiling and and outer walls) while also working as contemplative, expansive pieces of art will find suitable lodgings here. Think: Olafur Eliasson’s installation “The Weather Project”. Think: Gerda Steiner & Jorg Lenzlinger’s “Falling Garden”. Think: Regine Ramseier’s “Calm”. Events can still be held on the floor during the installations’ lifetime (the installation will add to the aesthetic drama of any event/performance): whether that be a chefs presentation, art talk, wedding celebration, or concert: the success of this space depends on impeccable programming of events and installations rather than on elite guest lists.

Guests rooms will sit back from the street. Rooms will be intentionally designed and stocked with local fashion and flavors, but they are less destinations and simply places to rest. Not capsule small, but ascetic and disciplined. The experiences and views from the main hall, stairwell, tea house, and the rest of the stops on the way would take precedence as a space of experience.

The attic is a place to dream, says Gaston Bachelard. The tea room is the attic to this main room, above the levels of guest bedrooms. Visitors will have the sense that they can transcend the hub and their guest rooms for the ritual and dream space of the tea room by way of the stairs exiting this space.

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