by Meghna MehtaMay 18, 2020
The Taiwanese district of Da’an, which is famous for its neon-lit streets, colourful markets, upscale shopping areas, and the Taipei’s largest park, welcomes within its bustling urban fabric a ‘new inner sanctuary’ in the form of Kimpton Da An. A former residential plot turned hotel by Shanghai-based Neri&Hu, the project responds to the city’s vibrancy and cultural richness while simultaneously nurturing itself as a destination to pause and rest in the middle of the city.
A rustic façade featuring details in dark metal, offset by a milky-white background, welcomes visitors at the entrance. Walking inside the building, one first encounters a double height atrium that leads to the reception across the hall. The ground floor presents itself as an ambivert space with a mix of intimate and public areas. A sculpted ceiling with varying levels hosts below different pockets of seating, some cocooned and others around the centre of the hall for more informal conversations.
The interior walls are clad in polished white tiles that reference the common tiled facades found in the streets and alleys of Taipei. These walls feature curated openings that frame views of the outdoor terrace garden and filter optimal natural light to illuminate the interiors. While a palette of muted browns, greys and whites dominate the floor, walls and the furniture, the sculpted high/low ceiling puts on a vibrant hue.
The idea of the hotel being a sanctuary is best felt in the guest rooms. Reflecting the contemplative vibe, the designers innovatively use wooden partitions as thresholds to create in-between space. These insertions, which include built-in storage, seating, mesh covered windows and door openings, sectionalise spaces and create varying degrees of visual transparency.
In contrast to the meditative character of these rooms, the restaurant at Kimpton Da An is characterised by pops of colours, geometric patterns, and decorative detailing. The designers describe this space as ‘a celebration of the communal dining experience and as an extension to the rich street life culture of Taipei’. A wall lifted off the ground via wooden legs and punctured by a series of arched doorways separate different areas within the dining hall, which is a common typology in Asia. Wrapped in bright fluted tiles and adorned with metal work, the wall and the openings emulate the enfilade – a suite of rooms which is formally aligned with each other.
“The challenge for Kimpton Da An was how to convert a residential building into hotel due to the idiosyncrasies of the plan. To work with the many variances across the room types, bespoke wooden millwork elements were strategically tailored to each room to create various functions catering to the guests’ needs,” explains the studio.
The use of multiple scales in a single space as well as the choice of material and details demonstrate a pared down simplicity and bespoke character. The 8000 sqm building not only aligns with the cultural values of its context but also results in a minimal and contemporary approach to the hotel in which, as the designers rightly put it, ‘every aspect reflects the guiding concept of the “inner sanctuary”’.