A5 Arquitectura inserts an industrial staircase outside The Somos in Medellín

The Columbian firm designs an open facade comprising a jet black staircase and steel balconies, traversing the eight metre high, four-storey building of The Somos hotel.

by STIRworld Published on : Jun 08, 2020

Within the El Peblado neighbourhood of Columbia’s second largest city of Medellín - home to several rental apartments, cafes, boutique stores and shopping malls - a chic four-storey hotel has been designed between two existing buildings, by local firm A5 Arquitectura. Referred as The Somos, the hotel includes common areas such as a bar and an open air garden, and accommodation spaces vary from individual suites to dorm-style rooms.

Perforated metal screens on the facade of The Somos  | A5 Arquitectura |  Medellín, Colombia | STIRworld
Perforated metal screens on the facade of The Somos Image Credit: Alejandro Echavarria

The design draws from the prevalent style of local housing in which staircases are integrated as part of the building’s exterior to allow independent access to different storeys and to free interior spaces that otherwise get commonly consumed by the steps.

Industrial-looking exteriors of The Somos | A5 Arquitectura |  Medellín, Colombia | STIRworld
Industrial-looking exteriors of The Somos Image Credit: Luis Bernardo Cano

An open facade comprising a black steel staircase covered with perforated steel screens and natural wood ascends the entire height of the hotel. This intervention not only doubles the number of rooms within the building and acts as a sound barrier from exterior noise, it also offers the guests the possibility to walk through the building and enjoy the idyllic climate of Medellín, which is known as the City of Eternal Spring.

Play of light and shadow by the facade | A5 Arquitectura |  Medellí, Colombia | STIRworld
Play of light and shadow by the facadeImage Credit: Luis Bernardo Cano

“The stairs are not designed as an enclosed and decoupled space, but as a collective balcony which ascends over the street," says A5 Arquitectura.

Potted plants dot this path along the staircase; their foliage can be seen bursting atop the balconies.

 The cafe leading to a stepped outdoor seating | A5 Arquitectura |  Medellí, Colombia | STIRworld
The cafe leading to a stepped outdoor seating Image Credit: Luis Bernardo Cano

A sunken restaurant has been designed below the ground floor, and it can be accessed via a direct entry down the pavement. On the inside, in addition to serving as a cafe and a bar, the space opens onto a stepped outdoor garden that hosts lush greenery and uninterrupted views of the street.

A view of the bar  | A5 Arquitectura |  Medellí, Colombia | STIRworld
A view of the bar Image Credit: Luis Bernardo Cano

Exposed beams, roughly textured concrete walls, wooden furniture and flooring inside the bar are kept in sync with the industrial-looking exteriors of the hotel. However, adding vibrancy to the entire decor are streaks of colours in irregular bursts – be it the red fire sprinkler system covering the ceiling, the slender blue-legged chairs lining one corner, the peach bar counter, or the yellow stencilled 'Ask here' sign that fills the space with a compelling contrast.

Colours in bits and spurts within the cafe and bar | A5 Arquitectura |  Medellí, Colombia | STIRworld
Colours in irregular bursts within the cafe and bar Image Credit: Luis Bernardo Cano

Taking the route of the external staircase, one arrives at the reception on the first floor. To create an arrangement of a four-storey building in an 8m height, within the corridors the architects interleaved every two floors by a series of gaps that generated high ceiling.

Mosaic flooring and murals around the elevator | A5 Arquitectura |  Medellí, Colombia | STIRworld
Mosaic flooring and murals around the elevator Image Credit: Luis Bernardo Cano

As sunlight filters through the facade screen, someone standing in the corridor can witness the beautiful play of light and shadow. Further, adding a character to the hotel is the space around the lift shaft that features mosaic-tiled flooring and a mural on the outside of the elevator.

Looking towards the corridor | A5 Arquitectura |  Medellín, Colombia | STIRworld
Looking towards the corridor Image Credit: Luis Bernardo Cano

The accommodation on the upper floors keeps simplicity at the core of its design. The first floor has a dorm room comprising eight beds and a king size suite, while the top floor has two private rooms – a king and a double.

  • Dorm-style room | A5 Arquitectura |  Medellí, Colombia | STIRworld
    Dorm-style room Image Credit: Mateo Soto
  • A private room on the top floor | A5 Arquitectura |  Medellí, Colombia | STIRworld
    A private room on the top floor Image Credit: Mateo Soto

The Somos brings together diverse styles that add homogeneously to the rustic vibe of the space,making it a distinct spot for both the locals and tourists that throng the city.

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