Friday, April 20, 2007

Hotel Q! Berlin

Hotel Q!
Knesebeckstrasse 67
Architect : Graft Lab
Completed 2001

Designed by the SCI-Arc grads at Graft Lab, the Q! hotel (MAP) on Kurfürstendamm in Berlin is a 4 star hotel with 72 rooms, four studios, one penthouse and a bar and spa (wellness area). For those who know where to look, Q! isn’t hard to find. Within a relatively undistinguished gray facade, punched windows (of the sort commonly seen in this city) reveal the first hint that Q! stands apart from its neighbors in this high-rent district, just off the Kufürstendamm.

Flowing from the lobby into the lounge and restaurant, curvy, red-linoleum-clad surfaces glide seamlessly from floor to wall. Couches and built-in furniture similarly bear the mark of the architects, Graft, a young Los Angeles- and Berlin-based firm with a total of 20 employees.

Throughout the 32,000-square-foot building, Graft succeeded in imposing a unified aesthetic. At Q!, continuous, streamlined surfaces wrap not only the street-level public areas but also the guest-room interiors, where the palette shifts to white against smoked-oak floors. Here, walls meld into desks and ceilings. Overhead, curved ceilings lightly printed with Christian Thomas’s photographs of a woman, aim to give these quarters what Putz calls a “cocoonlike feeling.”

Carefully thought out, the room designs favor an enveloping smoothness that does away with many everyday clues to designated function, such as door handles. Cupboards or light switches are not immediately visible. Though sleek wrappers seem to be de rigueur in new design hotels, Graft crafted the aesthetic skillfully, conveying a sense of high quality through good workmanship, despite the low budget. What looks like slate in the bathrooms, for example, is really black terra-cotta, and so forth.

A Japanese-inspired spa-sauna in the basement has a relaxation lounge with real sand. At night, the lounge turns into an exclusive, members-only bar, but hotel guests are welcome. The breakfast is served in the bar space, and allows another experiential take on the space. If you stay up all night on the weekends, you'll be pleased to know that breakfast is served until 1300.

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