Transforming an area through creativity —Hotel The Exchange


In recent years both architecture and design have been seeing a strengthening trend towards incorporating preexisting conditions, materials, background history, and interacting with the local community rather than building everything from square one. A good example of this movement is Hotel The Exchange that opened in Amsterdam at the end of last year.

Exchange is the latest project by Suzanne Oxenaar and Otto Nan, the culture entrepreneurs who launched Amsterdam's well-known Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy.

Room 619 (Mattress Room) by Roos Soetekouw. Soetekouw dismantled a bed and covered the entire room with the springs and frame.

Oxenaar and Nan, who are also remembered for LLOVE Hotel that appeared in Daikanyama for a limited period during Tokyo Design Week 2010, selected as the stage for their new project a building in the former red light district in front of Amsterdam Station now undergoing redevelopment. It’s an old-looking hotel built on the main street nicknamed the “red carpet,” a thoroughfare in front of the central station packed with cheap souvenir shops and fast food restaurants. Seeing the left-over pizza still in the oven of the bankrupt pizza restaurant on the first floor of the hotel, Oxenaar and Nan realized it wasn’t the kind of place that would easily stimulate the imagination. Nevertheless, even though they were given only two weeks to take it or leave it, they came up with the idea of using the hotel as a base to express their concept “red carpet = fashion.”

Room 605 (Tailor’s Dummy) by Ina Matt. This room takes as its theme dress basting. It appears as if the entire room is tacked in linen cloth.

From that point, the wheels of creativity and business immediately began to turn, and they came up with a theme: each room would be adorned in a dress, like a model standing on a red carpet. Moreover, they secured the collaboration of students from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) in order to realize the plan on a limited budget without lowering the quality of the creations. This also led to the realization of a support model that urged students to participate in realistic experiments.

Left; A caf Stock operates on the concept of breakfast from 7:00 AM to 7:00PM. Ina Matt was in charge of the design. Right; The world’s largest Flat Table made for Options!. The 4.5meter long table was designed by Jo Nagasaka.

Eight students selected from applications were assigned to design and outfit 32 rooms under the guidance of veteran designer Ina Matt. The ideas are quite diverse, with everything from “80s hip hop” to “the Emperor has no Clothes” and fashions depicted in 17th century Dutch Golden Age Painting, and guests can select a room with the same freedom as choosing clothes from a wardrobe.
A design shop Options! is located inside the hotel where in addition to originally-produced artistically patterned textiles, furniture and works by students involved in the project are also for sale.

Exterior of Hotel The Exchange. It comprises three buildings of differing styles that are connected by maze-like stairs and passages. A caf and Options! face the main street.

Situated within this creative context, Hotel The Exchange is connected to the city through the street level shop and caf. Not a simple “make-over,” its appearance on the scene serves as a chance to inspire new city development. (Text by Ikko Yokoyama / AXIS vol.157)

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