Bringing together 19 of the world's best architects and designers to work on one hotel project was a challenge in itself. The resulting Silken Puerta America in Madrid is a sensation, writes Ellie Stathaki
Instead of choosing just one architect to make their mark in the world of designer hospitality, the Spanish hotel group Silken decided to have it all - and employed 19.
The names in the line-up are cherry-picked, ranging from Jean Nouvel, Arata Isozaki, John Pawson, David Chipperfield, Plasma Studio, Lord Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid to Marc Newson, Ron Arad, Richard Gluckman, Christian Liaigre, Teresa Sapey, Javier Mariscal and Victorio & Lucchino.
With each floor and area featuring a different concept, Puerta America boasts the creations of some of the biggest contemporary stars in the field, each of them adding their own contribution towards this 12-floor hotel.
Jean Nouvel, the French architect, was alone in designing the rainbow-coloured vinyl-panelled facade, but inside each floor was designed by a different architect.
Among them, Zaha Hadid masterminded the Corian-lined, futuristically smooth first floor, Lord Foster is behind the sleek leather-detailed second floor, while Kathryn Findlay's white eighth floor design involves an interactive lighting installation by Jason Bruges, an expert in the field.
Common areas were not left out. Examples include the restaurant's sleek contemporary design by Christian Liaigre, the lower-ground garage by Teresa Sapey and John Pawson's calm minimalist lobby and meeting rooms. Even Oscar Niemeyer, the centenarian Brazilian icon, took part by creating a sculptural composition for the adjacent park.
The Silken Puerta America venture has, of course, had its critics. Some questioned its location on the busy Avenida de America. And it could be argued that, attractive as they may be, the rooms are not necessarily as functional as standard hotel accommodation. Neither did it come cheap, representing an estimated €75-million (£67-million) investment.
Still, the scheme took the boutique hotel concept to a new level, orchestrating an exceptional architectural constellation. It represents a showcase of design imagination, mixing a variety of contemporary styles and approaches, something that has never been attempted before in the hospitality world. This five-star hotel can certainly cater for all tastes between its 308 standard rooms, 22 junior suites and 12 suites.
An ultimate design exercise, experiment or experience, there is no doubt that the Silken Puerta America is the perfect conversation-starter for any design-savvy traveller and, for architecture aficionados, probably even a destination in itself.
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