Chetwood Associates has won planning permission for a new, super-green hotel in London's Clerkenwell. And the practice is hoping it will prove that environmental principles can be applied to this neglected building sector just as successfully as to bespoke, high-budget, high- profile projects.
Chetwood director Paul Hinkin told the AJ that the scheme, which won planning permission from Islington council on 23 April, is proof that it is possible to 're-engineer' the hotel as a building type, ushering in natural daylight and energy-saving features as much as possible while still maintaining a 'crisp, modern aesthetic'. The client is new outfit The Urban Hotel Group and some of its team were behind the successful Moro restaurant, also in Clerkenwell.
The hotel, which is designed to appeal to 'design-aware 25-40 year olds', sits in a conservation area. Rather than new build, it is a refurbishment of a historic warehouse/office building which is more than 100 years old. Hinkin aims to create a central atrium with 59 hotel rooms wrapped around it. To cut out the 'depressing' walk to the hotel room from the lift which is common in most hotels, the atrium brings in natural light from its glazed roof and means drinkers in a ground floor bar and 60-seat restaurant can look up and see the stars. A passive ventilation system features computer-controlled ventilation in the atrium ceiling, controlling heat escape through the glazed ceiling as it rises via natural stack ventilation.
Hinkin wants to use water drawn from a borehole for WC flushing and to cool mechanically extracted heat. This is being actively encouraged, since the demise of heavy industries such as brewing in London has depleted the drawoff of groundwater from under the city, causing the water table to rise dramatically.
Recycled plastics are used as wall cladding in wet areas, timber is sustainable and left untreated, and the hotel lobby matting has even been fabricated from recycled coach and aeroplane tyres.
Unusally the loft-height rooms feature shorter bathrooms as pods with a 'halo glazing' strip allowing light in. The practice is also looking at installing thermal and acoustic shutters in the bedrooms in place of the normal double glazing.
'We're trying to transfer the lessons learnt in other places - technologies to reappraise and significantly re-engineer the sector, ' said Hinkin.