Hamburg’s Hafencity is one of the most ambitious urban construction sites in Europe. A new district is emerging creating a lively city quarter, a microcosm of modern life where people come together, mingle, confer and celebrate. So it was the idea behind the new 25hours Hotel Hafencity to give this new district a new „living room“ in the heart of the Hafencity.
“We wanted to create a web of meaning with interrelating signs and symbols referring to seafaring and harbour life. A place where old and new stories come to life,” describes the British Architect and Designer Stephen Williams. It all began from the poems of Joachim Ringelnatz with the fictitious sailor Kuttel Daddeldu, a good soul who’s deeply rooted in the seafaring life, but also coarse and a little cheeky.
From the projects inception the idea of a multi-disciplinary team played an important role – The client was an integral part of the design team from day one and formed part of a creative collective co-ordinated by Stephen Williams Associates. The ultimate user-generated architecture where all participants bounced ideas within spacial structures – a storyteller, the event agency eventlabs and an illustrator giving meaning at all levels. “We worked together like story editors in epic TV-series where a team of writers and professionals with different backgrounds fiddle about to get the perfect story that works at various levels: truly reflect life and it’s meaning,” says Stephen Williams. “It could be considered, that our role is a like that of director of space balancing narrative identity with feasibility and, on top producing unique ideas.”
Modern seamen or “maritime nomads” have something in common with travellers, dubbed as “urban nomads”: mobility. In search of this spirit, Markus Stoll, a storyteller for brands, interviewed 25 international sailors in the Seaman‘s Club Duckdalben in Hamburg. Passionate about the contemporary notion of the seafaring world, he adapted the first-hand accounts into semifictional stories that became one of the guiding themes of the hotel’s concept. The seamen’s stories were illustrated by Jindrich Novotny and appear not only on wall surfaces but also in specially created log books in each room.
Guests when retreating to their rooms experience the intimacy of cabins. Conventional furniture replaced with built-in elements and a ‘travel trunk’ providing the visitor with all that they will require: information, log book, drinks, working space with writing instruments and electrical connections. The sea trunk and its contents evoke the emotion of a transitory existence, the seafarer now on land for a short period with all his belongings.
The hotel offers a classical typology of spaces but comes up with suprising interpretations. The rooms are cabinstyle suites, the business center is called the “Radio Room”. Privacy is catered for with 3 Telephone boxes built from salt bleached driftwood, to include skype. Business and private travellers alike have everything they need including a printer located in a rusty metal cage - the „Radio Room“‚ a communication point for a new breed of business traveller.