Industrial Vision

When Doos Architects was commissioned to design the Radisson Blu Riverside Hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden, the prominent boutique design practice was intrigued.

A standard big chain hotel such as the Radisson typically reproduced their style mark, while the design firm is known to come up with creative and inspiring designs, never really recycling their ideas.

Bronwynn Welsh, CEO of Doos Architects explains: “The hotel has a very small public space, which is unusual for a Radisson, so we had to use this very small space in a smart way.

When we started looking at the design, there were no restrictions because the rooms were quite small, so we got it from scratch, and had to ask ourselves, ‘how can we use the small spaces in the best way?’”

The designers looked no further than their immediate surroundings for their inspiration. Located in the Swedish city of Lindholmen, Gothenburg, it wasn’t much of a surprise to hear that the concept underpinning the hotel pays homage to the rich history and narrative of the town.

Once an old shipyard, Lindholmen boasts a particularly industrial feel, proudly sporting the badge and air of the shipbuilding industry.

“The location is what gave birth to the whole concept and idea, Gothenburg was a industrial area and was part of the shipping yards, and even though the shipping industry has left its place, it still resembles this past,” Welsh says.

With the past in the back of Doos’ mind and modernity at its forefront, the architects set out to create a space that would merge the two points in time together, while also approaching the small space in an advantageous manner.

One of the main goals for the design team was to maintain individual expression, even within an international brand hotel. With a range of materials that includes wood, iron and copper, the traditional feeling of industrialisation and factory work is never too far behind.

“There’s a lot of wood and there’s a lot of copper throughout the hotel. You can see it in the whole reception and back office area,” describes Welsh of the copper cladding, which frames the front entrance and reflects the natural light that seeps in through the giant front windows.

The copper reaches from the reception desk back around to the traditional coffee stand near the lobby, where an open space for storing cups, plates and coffee are arranged for customer use.

Complimenting the copper cladding throughout the first floor is the light wood details that span from the floor to the ceiling in a harmonious flow. Welsh adds: “There’s also a lot of black wood in Scandinavia, and we’ve lightened it up and given it a bit of warmth to mix in with the copper tones.”

The ground floor merges different spaces together, allowing customers and visitors to socialise, work and eat. Optimising the space are the views of the old, romantic harbour and surrounding nature.

Also located on the lower level is the restaurant, Cuckoo’s Nest, designed by Stylt Trampoli. Since its old days of shipbuilding, Lindholmen has become a hub for intellectual growth, providing a number of research and science facilities, and the restaurant brings this academic style to life.

Drawing attention to the charm of an ingenious mind are quirky elements like the bar whose chalkboard pannels display an array of mathematical equations and chaotic formulas. A banner hangs gently from the ceiling and reads: “Nothing shocks me, I’m a scientist.”

Completing the cool environment are the classic Chesterfield armchairs, coloured in electric sea green, while vibrant olive yellow high-chairs and classic brown leather booths decorated with earthy coloured pillows make up the rest of the restaurant’s seating and invite customers in to enjoy the comfortable, trendy setting.

Radisson Blu Riverside Hotel has 265 rooms and 10 suits. The rooms are smaller than average for the Radisson Blu, as Welsh admits, which meant the design team had to be extra creative when it came to space planning. Glass panels divide the bedroom from the balcony, expanding the room’s layout into the outdoors and connecting the room with the surrounding environment.

Inside the bedrooms, the same concept of transparency continues as the bathroom isn’t separated by a thick wall, but rather another panel of glass.

On the room design, Welsh explains: “The thing that makes them special is that it’s an unconventional bathroom solution. In the hallway you almost have like a dressing room feel with an open wardrobe. And the wet zone, which is the bathroom and the hand basin area, is visible from the room but you can close it off. The hallway area is like a walk-in closet.

And even in the rooms, we have a freestanding desk lamp hanging down, which gives it a residential feel. So the whole impression has this sort of homey feeling.”

Upon entering the rooms, it’s hard not to notice the graphic illustrations on the wall which add a touch of urban spirit. There are six versions of the illustration throughout the hotel, all of which were designed by the designers at Doos.

“The wallpaper is a graphic we did ourselves, and we wanted to create a wallpaper that wasn’t too harsh, so we added soft tones to add a feminine feel with masculine imagery.

“If you look at it, it’s almost like a blast of a woman’s makeup, while the actual images are very masculine. This juxtaposition enhances the whole wallpaper,” adds Welsh.

The graphic wallpaper was inspired by not only Lindholmen’s history in shipbuilding, but also geography, as Welsh explains.

Each version is powerful with many elements and images overlapping one another. The designers hoped that with each viewing came a new understanding, and a new perspective.

According to Welsh: “[All six versions] are sort of based on the original version with different graphics swapped and things moved around a little bit. And a month later you could see something different in the imagery, so there’s something always interesting to discover, but also once again the feel and the tone here should be the same all over. It’s quite an eclectic mix of graphics, and the imagery is industrial.”

The rooms also maintain a youthful and funky selection of furniture. From cherry red lamps that hang heavily from the corner, to grey plaid sofas that coherently mix with the purple floor rugs, the rooms are a far cry from the business hotel style Radisson Blu typically goes for.

Rather, these rooms are inspired by their own regional environment and bring guests closer to experiencing a unique stay in the city.

Also part of the hotel’s facilities is the BodyLab—Wellness & Fitness centre which takes guests on a peaceful journey of luxury treatment and aesthetic surroundings.

Large Jacuzzis sit in a straight alignment on a giant platform, illuminated by vibrant purple LED lighting from underneath. Complimenting the interior design is the panoramic view of the outside, which offers breathtaking scenic imagery of the old harbour and Gothenburg.

The Wellness & Fitness centre brings together modern minimalism with a distinct urban attitude, a fluid extension of the hotel’s overall concept.

Bright orange gothic chairs are aligned in a slanted sequence on the terrace that wraps around the fitness centre. The chairs create an arresting contrast that allows guests to fully take in the city’s natural setting after a quick rejuvenation at BodyLab.

Throughout the hotel are numerous little elements that when together, create a striking and rich design. From the lobby to the top floor, each and every corner adds to the bigger picture, while managing to maintain rich delight in the small details.

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