Designed by Singapore’s Silvefox Studios, W Amman has the definitive W brand character; it brings tradition and modernity together, while retaining the cultural essence. Located in the heart of Abdali, Amman’s up and coming new downtown, the property comprising 280 guest rooms and 44 suites, quite literally stands out as a contemporary and bold architectural statement, offering panoramic views of the city’s seven hills. The project encompasses many tangible attributes of the city, such as ancient Roman ruins, hip artistic cafés, labyrinthine souks, and a buzzing nightlife scene.
Accepting the challenge to create a fresh concept yet retain the brand’s essence within the cultural context of its location, the design team worked with the given brief. It mandated that the hotel must have a connection to the local catchment area, and be responsive to local custom and culture, be that in relation to the physical landscape, the history and the artistic nature of the people. “W Hotels, however, take a playful angle on this and energise the cultural connections to the local society by moving the conceptual connect in a whimsical direction,” says Patrick Waring, partner, Silverfox Studios. “It is important to have fun in association to the cultural values of the city.”
The project began with an intensive research process so cultural sensitivities could be incorporated in the most authentic manner and not as clichéd references. “Prior to designing the project, we were sent away to research and immerse ourselves in the culture of Jordan,” shares Waring. “We were lucky to have with us experts on the history and geography of the city of Jordan, as well as the country as a whole. This historic timeline covered the ancient early civilisations, dating back 8,000 years BC through the Nabatean Kingdom with its capital in the famous city of Petra, known for its water-formed canyons, the Roman empire’s influence through the middle ages, and the recent secular history.”
Working with the strongest and clearly identifiable icons and built form, which are specific to Jordan, such as the canyons of Petra, the Roman amphitheatre in Amman city centre, the design firm adapted these elements into the main entrance area and outdoor decking event spaces. “We looked at details found in fabric patterns and woven metallic threads, glass beads and jewellery, and also looked at interweaving these details into a variety of stories for art and graphic representation,” says Waring.
Inspired by the colossal, iconic rock formations of Petra, the hotel’s façade is reminiscent of the city’s striking arrival experience. The design studio has recreated the iconic surroundings in the Canyon Walk. “To have a piece of the building appear to be fractured away from the podium to create the Petra experience is unique, and has been executed perfectly by the contractor,” says Waring. “The materials used within the Canyon are a combination of steel, glass and rendered plaster work. The render catches the changing light due to its texture and undulating fractured surface.”
The contemporary interpretation of Petra’s shard is a recurring feature throughout the hotel, such as the Aura lounge, whose angles and elevations are demonstrated through shard structures. The carpet is inspired by Petra’s rose stone in the famous treasury, with all its waves, curves and colours creating an impression of colourful silk.
The “Living Room” reception area and lounge has a series of semi-private pods, on different levels mimicking the building landscape of Amman spread on different levels. This depiction represents a fusion of intimate and open areas, low seating and mood lighting that provokes the transition between day and night. Jordanian culture can be found through fabrics, cushions and huge vases inspired by Bedouin weaving, as well as plant and flower pots that look like the rooftops of the city. Locally designed pillows from the Jordan River Foundation, a non-profit organisation that focuses on child safety and community empowerment, give pops of colour.
Eschewing literal interpretations of local culture, the design team references traditions and heritage with a modern twist. One such example is the Tree of Life, made of twisted multi-colored Bedouin textiles, found outside of the entrance to Mesh, the hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant. Waring explains: “Amman is filled with houses that are of similar size and scale, design and finish and have a few olive trees in the front garden. The olive tree has a major impact on life here. We celebrated this but wrapped the trees with a variety of colourful fabric, in rolls depicting camel hair rugs piled up one on top of another in the local markets.”
The windows between the F&B precinct and the public domain at street level are shielded by use of juxtaposed louvered panelling. The building changes colour due to the use of dichroic filters applied to the glass.