Increasing impacts of climate change are prompting designers and architects to think creatively such that the shift towards the aspired ‘net-zero’ future can be realized. In an increasingly dynamic global context marked by the swift movement of people across cities and countries for work and recreation, hotel rooms serve as an ideal laboratory for innovative design experimentation across diverse user groups and their needs. Through ‘a room for imagination’, Lina Ghotmeh has explored the potential of hotel rooms as ‘capable spaces’, having the ability to transform to fulfil a larger environmental objective based on the user’s requirements.
As part of the exhibition’ hotel metropolis – since 1818′ in Paris, a room for imagination’ aims to deliver a multifunctional living space that can easily adapt to the needs of its temporary inhabitants. This purpose is realized through the application of the concept of a circular economy, which is a model of production and consumption involving sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible. Ghotmeh strongly believes that we, as a society, can achieve a zero carbon future by maximizing the use of what we already have. She recalls how she looked at ‘the potential of creating a room as a hybrid space where each element used is sustainable and is part of the circular economy whilst maintaining a holistic connection with the inhabitant.’ The ‘room for imagination’ can be used as a ‘multi-use space’, where one can sleep, entertain guests, collaborate, and co-work with others; use it provisionally, when travelling, or as an extension of one’s home.
The room features a 24-square meter space intended to be used as a ‘veritable toolbox’ for its users. This modular space can be assembled as and when required and is easy to maintain and clean. The walls can be transformed to conceal or reveal various functions available in the room. The window is a part of the décor, offering views of the city through its large span. It, therefore, integrates seamlessly with the aesthetics of the room.
Being at the center of several intersections and flows, the room has the potential to serve as a key element of a circular economy. The walls are fabricated from wood and covered in natural fibres, which offer good sound insulation. The materials used within the room have been reused. The pink-coloured shower flooring has been derived from transformed sand, bathroom tiles from a variety of salvaged materials, plates from mussels shells, and bedding from recycled linen. The room offers all the basic amenities, including toilets, beds, closets, tables, chairs, showers, and toilets. In addition to these, it can be further transformed and customized for work or recreation.
Such solutions have proven to be ideal for business travellers and round-the-clock workers such as medics and call centre executives. They provide an opportunity to transform the space based on requirements and allow sufficient room for sleep, work, or play. This approach supports new ways of meeting the needs of a global worker, somebody who has to work across various time zones. ‘A Room for Imagination’ also serves as a great example of architect Louis Sullivan’s well-known adage, ‘form follows function; the form and layout of the room are entirely dependent on the function it is supposed to serve to its current user. This not only allows for maximum utilization of available floor space, which is at a premium in megacities such as Paris, but it also explains how architecture can meaningfully and resourcefully serve the needs of the user.
In addition to optimum space utilization, we also notice optimum resource utilization. Since all the features of this room have been built out of reclaimed and reused materials, it stays true to the global requirement of more sustainable accommodations during travel. This need is further driven home by a survey conducted recently regarding the willingness of travellers to stay at more sustainable accommodations. The survey showed that 81% of travellers confirmed that sustainable travel is important to them, while more than 50% said that they were determined to make more environmentally responsible travel choices this year. However, the lack of sustainable travel options makes it difficult for these travellers to make environmentally sound choices. Solutions such as ‘A Room for Imagination’ will allow for a lower per capita ecological footprint of a modern traveller, leading to a greener future.
Upon analysis of testimonials of attendees of the exhibition conducted by Ghotmeh and her team, they found that they were able to imagine an intimate space away from home that is open to a multitude of possibilities in terms of habitat, recreation, and work. Further, the simple interiors, lack of fancy decoration, and ample amount of space display a future marked by ‘no frills living’, which lends a sense of comfort and allows for a better state of mind. This space, with its simple interiors, gives us the opportunity for imagination, and a plethora of possibilities, making it truly
‘ A Room for Imagination ‘.
Personal interaction with the architect and her team via email dated 26th July, 2022
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