‘Academia of Athens Hotel’ is a newly refurbished, city hotel in Athens. It is set in the center of the city amongst many emblematic buildings and monuments.
The original building was erected in 1970 as an office building by the famous Greek architect E.Vourekas. One of the initial and crucial challenges was to propose a new, fresh, modern design respecting the history of the building and of the city, while at the same time introducing a contemporary vibe to it.
The brief required to design a 5-star city hotel offering high level contemporary architecture, sophisticated interior design, impeccable services and unique experiences, taking advantage of the site’s location and creating a hub of prestigious entertainment and relaxation.
The renovation completed in 12 months resulting into 60 stylish contemporary rooms distributed in 7 floors, an indoor pool and spa, a ground floor Bar & Lounge and a rooftop restaurant with stunning views of the Acropolis and Lycabettus, signed by Marriott’s ‘Autograph Collection’.
Location, use, existing layout, Marriott’s requirements for the highest standards of hospitality, were all contributing factors to different layers of complexity into the design process.
The issues faced in the refurbishment of the building from its intended use into a hotel were numerous. Starting from the ground floor, the original building was divided into two levels making it challenging to create open plan spaces for the public areas and the reception of the hotel. The issue was addressed by placing the bar at the main entrance creating a trendy and contemporary identity to the hotel. The reception was pushed back into the lift area channeling the guests immediately to their rooms. The restaurant was set on two levels creating an impressive outcome with a double height ceiling space. All these uses were placed in immediate proximity to the street level in order to accommodate the needs of the hotel guests and the passers-by locals creating a welcoming atmosphere.
The rooftop bar-restaurant was an important addition to the building as it accommodates stunning views towards the Acropolis and Lycabettus hill. The bar was placed in a way to block the undesirable views of adjacent buildings and to better frame the inviting views of the city.
Another challenge was to design a fully functioning health spa and to introduce a new indoor swimming pool, all set in the 1st basement of the building. ‘Back Of House’ spaces were also limited to the 2nd basement in order to maximize the guest services and experiences.
On the exterior, facades were re-shaped in response to the new functional use and layout of the building. The design approach aimed at reconstructing the facades, producing new surfaces in a marble-lined protrusion and recessed surfaces with vertical aluminum elements. Their design typology was determined by parametric design, their position emerging by optimizing density and (a)symmetry factors in order to enhance the continuous interplay of light and shadow, public and private, introvert and extrovert, noise and tranquility as defined by the modern concept of the hotel. These elements act as a second skin between the city and the building signaling the transition into a unique experience.
The use of contemporary composite materials was chosen with care to reflect high end classical values and feel, as well as timeless architectural aesthetics. A sustainable architectural approach was followed dictating the use of a ventilation facade acting as a breathing double skin and vertical shades, adequate to shelter the west facing orientation of the building. Materials were chosen based on a low carbon footprint on the environment to provide an energy efficient building.
‘Academia of Athens Hotel’ emerges as part of the architectural evolution of the area and as a new contemporary hotel of the modern metropolis. A prominent statement standing gracefully next to timeless monuments, becoming a point of reference in the city.