HBA merges Swiss & Chinese for Swisstouches debut

HBA/Hirsch BednerAssociates brought “contemporary Swiss style” to the city of Xi’an with the launch of Swisstouches in China.

In the home of the famous Terracotta Warriors – now also a major business and financial centre in Central China – the design brief for the 318-room Swisstouches Hote lXi’an was not only to “bring contemporary Swiss style”, but also required a design respectful of local culture and history.

The Swisstouches design “creates a sense of place – and that place is decidedly Swiss”, according to lead designer on the project, David T’kint, associate of HBA Singapore.

“Guests experience characteristic Swiss hospitality within an environment that evokes a modern Swiss lifestyle, while integrating Chinese culture,” he added.

In the lobby, shapes are linear, clean and bold.The expansive floor and rectangular columns are clad in white stone. Walls are finished in blonde burl-panels, with custom blue rugs defining seating areas. Replacing the traditional, long wooden reception desk is a stone and glass pod, and stylised candleholders are used – leading the eye to an imposing six-metre installation of white, modernist candlesticks at the base of the grand stairs.

The staircase is open, as if suspended by steel cables, leading to the mezzanine. There, the ceiling makes a bold statement of parallel stainless steel panels striped with red fibre optic light, which makes asubtle reference to the Swiss flag.

Over two floors, the Swisstouches Spa is chic and sophisticated, including several private rooms and a variety of hot and cold dip pools with the usual functions ofa pool area.

“The atmosphere is very mineral – as spas usually are in Switzerland – finished with a variety of textured beige and gray stone,” added T’kint.

The main pool is a sleek black rectangle, theatrically showcased by HBA’s dedicated lighting division, Illuminate, with linear blue lights set into stripes across the ceiling reflecting on its mirrored surface. In contrast, the circular dip pools are turquoise.

HBA also themed food and beverage outlets with Swiss touches. In the Chinese restaurant, The Lord’s Home, traditional Chinese cuisine is served in the atmosphere of a stately Swiss home – complete with a study, parlour and butler’s room.

An adjoining Noodle Bar serves more than 150 different types of noodles from a long, clean, white counter surrounding a light stone rectangular preparation area.

Lighting of the ballroom is versatile, allowing tailoring in a variety of colours for individual clients and particular events, with large chandeliers adding grandeur.

Guestrooms feature walls in a uniform light grey-wood tone increasing the sense of space. Custom carpets with intricate red-line designs continue the theme of the mezzanine ceiling.

The bathroom layouts are different from the norm, with a separate toilet cubicle across the entrance foyer from the bath,which is finished in grey stone, creating a canvas for the white-stone vanity counter.

With a design concept deadline of eight months to fitting out and openingthe new luxury hotel in 16 months, the project required a great deal of flexibility. “The Swisstouches brand promise is bound up in its name and HBA delivered on this promise in a refreshing, intensely contemporary way,” added T’kint.

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