Distinction: Counter-intuitive Experiential Hotel Through Ground-Highrise Distinctiveness
filed under: Ideas

Hotel and mall mixed development in high-rise unit, under the tutoring of Ar. Ng Hong Lin, JPY Architects, Johor.

The brief called for a hotel and mixed development design on an urban site of approximately 0.8 acres at Tanjung Puteri, Johor with an allowed plot ratio of 1: 8. This project presents distinction between the ground and high-rise in resolving non-singular complex forces that the urban site suggested, and an counter-intuitive phenomenon experiential configuration where the sense of arrival of hotel only begins from the top floor to contextual (whatever neighbors do, it does the opposite in this case) neighbour building in achieving main objective of it which is to encourage site and building visit and revisitation. Visit and revisitation frequency by the user within building and site, on one hand, it literally increases externalities and prospect of the client, on the other hand, it recreates and reconfigures physical-mobile density pattern on-site and it makes it vibrant. The exertion of a counter-intuitive user-experiential phenomenon is seen as significant factor parallel but different to the Bilbao effect by Guggenheim museum where Distinction celebrates internal effect by reversing experience of the hotel from top to down, and an articulation of public realm all to top floor for main site forces which are the sea view and cityscape.   

The language of the project begins with an intensive analysis of non-singularity forces from seasonal factor patterns, site, program, and position of the client is put slightly higher in achieving them. Seasonal pattern factor suggested the hotel is not fully occupied and most of the time during the day hotel room does not being occupied by hotel occupants and its length of stay is low, while major activity for travelers being shopping. The site is overwhelmed by other hotel and office buildings with landmark status mainly MSC building, Grand Blue Waves hotel, Suria City. Highway configuration and program on-site do not reinforce density flow continuity from activity spine of Jalan Wong Ah Fook with a diverse program while a one-stop pattern is observed by travelers on-site, and workers only are seen walking to the restaurant around during lunchtime and off working hour. In short, there is no reason for site casual visits and revisitation.

Design Approach and Method
The notion of Distinction is a design approach to permutate 2 major senses, arrival and territorial in achieving counter-intuitive factor experiential phenomena in generating local user and foreign traveler interest. The idea questions the possibility of experiencing arrival only beginning from the interiority of building, just like Eisenman's House VI where the conception of a house only begins from the inside, a house shall resemble cardboard and cardboard model has the conceptual factor in giving audience impression of the real building.   

Separation of conception and perception
The ground floor continues vegetation fabric and contour from the slope in the north, while hotel units begin from the 10th floor. Counter-intuitive experience in high rise hotel requires a deconstruction of conception and perception, where formal structure on the ground shall not resemble institutional territory, axial path, and enclosure but organic, and free flow. Hence de-institutionalizing ground structure to trigger user non-axial free flow pattern. The way user associate movement in spaces be the architecture of perceptual experience without conceptual arrival of hotel but fluid.   

Multi Referential Sign
Distinction covers 0.8 acres and 94m in height. Such scale of the building shall resemble relative macro-fabric sign, and microform of sign in relative to the neighbor, not only on ground level vistas to up high but vista from 300m away from the ground or other high rise buildings.  The counter-intuitive experience of hotel called for multi referential form where exterior visual perception shall denote a more than 1 way of readings, and leads to conception as a source of wonder and curiosity, audience move from one formal question from one construction to another structure, as they move their vision around the compositional elements, the conceptual quality shall denote not representation of high rise for institution but a theatre of imagination and creation.  Color, the shape of the structure, multigrid and Gestalt theory of perception (building envelope claddings) being 3 core principles in arriving concept of multi-reference. On the ground, the structural configuration is generated based on 3 grids(sun path grid, intersection grid, vegetation setting) by intersection, off-centered and overlaying technique. Thus, the column on the horizontal grid was given 1 color, the column which hits the sun path grid was given another color, while column at an intersection was given a different shape. The column setting results in a formal enclosure and axial path on the ground, and trees were set by the off-centering grid to break away the axial path. The columns shall be multi-readable relatively to one another. One same or different color relates to another while different shapes shall be compared. The cross-reference blurs the formal function of structure as a conventional supporting element in construction - post-functionalism.      

Gestalt theory suggested facade be generated in a form of composition of multiple incomplete rectangular shapes in different material for hotel user prospects on the environmental aspect, and they shall be read in multiple ways, multistability, reification, and invariance, in a 52-degree gesture to allow sunlight to reach vegetation. The cross-reference between elements again breaks away conventional purpose of high rise building sign which is representational.

Formal Language versus Deep Structure
As exterior structure presents notational purposes to the audience, it serves less being formal but relational, and relation breaks away the singular function of a structure. As user will be brought up from Ground floor straight away to top reception floor by express lift, and going down to units accordingly via internal lifts, structure only resemble formal language of institutional territory and sense of arrival beginning from top floor and building interiority, hence the experience of hotel begins from top, and downwards then.

Radical Zoning
Instead of hotels and units are on the top floor, more public and congested programs were put up high to bring the public realm into the vistas of sea view and cityscape. Based on parametric analysis of occupation behaviour and seasonal factor for hotel, top floor with significant criteria(windy, view, high) no longer valid for hotel unit(for sleeping only most of the time) but rather program where the public spend their time, cafe, food court, bars, coffee shop, bakery, retail, waiting area, reception, the public is connected to the main height feature of high rise and site. Mall serves as a supported program as analysis suggests the leisure time of traveler shall be turned into client prospect as an externality and it attracts local attention to it.

Parametric dynamic
The multi-referential exterior of the design (ground, and envelope) resembles a parametric static endeavor, while the middle part of the hotel is parametric dynamic. 3 levels of the hotel from 10th floor to 13 wherein a flexible form where it has no fix or large furniture, and a shared bathroom basis, and closed to tree canopies as if it caters to tropical style. Most of the walls are movable and retractable to form bigger spaces. Changed configuration suggested management opportunity to organize programs and events to cater for the low peak season of the hotel while events regenerate customers and allow a possible extra increase of lettable area by 15%.      

The building contextual neighbor hotel, office, and mall by reversing conventional bottom-up experience of building to give an experience-relational factor to the user where it generates visit frequency and revisitation to building and urban fabric.