by Jerry ElengicalJul 19, 2022
New boutique hotels incorporate numerous layers of design to accentuate their individual and unique characteristics. There is also an important amount of attention given to the idea of experiencing amenities beyond the bedroom and restaurants. Depending on the location and the plot of these hotels, one should consider the importance of a well-designed masterplan. The Unbound is one such boutique hotel, located at the edge of Amsterdam, in The Netherlands. Referred to as a ‘city escape’, the hotel design replicates the essence of a hamlet, with outdoor community spaces. The masterplan works with the natural wilderness of the selected plot to create wellness facilities, an exclusive hotel, as well as a series of lodges that work in synchronicity with the landscape design to create a sense of privacy.
The masterplan was created by Studio Appelo, while Rotterdam-based Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners made the design plan and coordinated it throughout the process with client and architects, Dorens Architects and Studio Appelo. In a joint statement, Marnix Vink of Felixx Landscape Architects and Planners; Jan van Erven Dorens of Dorens Architects, and Renee Appelo, from Studio Appelo said, “The close collaboration between all involved parties ensured that every detail of the boutique hotel and natural garden has been thought through. The outcome is a harmonious and persuasive ambience created by architecture, landscape, the hotel and lodges together. A relaxing and exclusive experience for this city escape.”
A key element of this city escape is its landscape design. Having been nominated for the Trezzini Awards and winning the LOOP Design Award 2021, Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners’ lush intervention adds diversity to the existing topography. This generates unique conditions and a more organic organisation of rooms, and their connected paths and walkways. The main entryway splits the bottom half of the landscape into two sections. On the right, along the entrance pathway is the reception, bar, and restaurant. These three structures act as the front facade and create some distance between the vehicular pathway and a cluster of lodges.
On the left is an artificially created pond. With four Dutch lodges located along the edge of the pond, the remaining lodges are located further left of the pond. Here is where the landscape design becomes an important part of the organisational scheme of the masterplan. Each of these lodges are located at the end of a narrow lane that meanders the landscape. These bifurcations grow out from a central ring-like vehicular circulation path. At the centre of this path is The Vuurplaats or fireplace which is a shared space. This is not the only shared amenity on site.
The accommodation and pond occupy the bottom half of the plot. In the upper section, there are a variety of different landscaped spaces. On the far right, next to the parking lot and above the restaurant and bar is a vegetable garden. Moving towards the right is a section designated as a playground, followed by an event field and then an arena. The top right corner of the plot is landscaped as a yoga pit and meditations circle. The landscape design takes on a very evolved approach to the different textures involved in the design. Going beyond the contrast of hardscape and softscape surfaces, the design also looks at further bifurcating the texture within the two large categories, with the addition of the pond.
A large concentration of the hotel buildings is situated next to the swimmable pond. A walkway leads to the sauna, which takes the form of a barrel, with a shower and plunge pool, located on the pond. On the other end of the pond is an artificial beach with uniquely designed furniture. Spanning the pond is a bridge, connecting the vehicular path to the lodge hamlet. The materiality of this particular landscape element highlights the contrast between the organic elements and built elements. A remarkable feature is considering both the pond and the bridge and design interventions.
The Unbound used to be 4.9ha of grassland, however, Felixx Landscape Architects and Planners transformed it into an escape from the dense experience of city life. The project saw the addition of more than 350 trees and diverse species of flora, to create diverse habitats and microclimates in a bid to increase the biodiversity of the land. These can be seen across the event field, playing areas, vegetable garden, orchard, wellness forest, yoga field and amphitheatre.
Name: The Unbound
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Client: Steengoed, Freelodge
Design team: Felixx Landscape Architects and Planners, Dorens Architects, Studio Appelo
Landscape Contractor: Flora Nova