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Soraia Noorali

Published Jul 14, 2020

Hotel_Type, refers to the hotel as an architectural object that responds and recreates various issues of contemporary hospitality. Hotel_Type is considered as strategic, not constituting limited disciplinary devices. It emphasizes its dual function, on the one hand, of an instrument of recognition of reality: it is analytical, explanatory, and reflexive. On the other hand, it presents processes that allow generating solutions, designing, pre-positive. In this way, Hotel_Type is both a diagnosis and an action, a mapping and trajectory, a notation and a creation.

The Hotel_Type is one of main constructs of the contemporary landscape and it one of the phenomena that best summarizes the contradictions of present society. Intrinsically linked to the phenomena of metapolis,[1] the Hotel_Type establishes new relations in dwelling, whether on the scale of the building and surrounding urban context, or on the scale of the city's extensive urban fabric. Where the meeting of the self and the other as a form of creation, consciousness and perception of the world acquires new contours.

The current situation of hotels stands out as a mean of answering the growing tourist demand. Its implementation focuses more heavily on capitals cities or metropolises with a similar role. These places are under exponential pressure, without legal frameworks or hotel structures adequate and sufficient to meet the demand, resulting in an unprecedented density of hotels that create new challenges to urban places and society. It plays an active and sometimes decisive role in relation to other current issues and concerns, namely in the areas of housing, rehabilitation of the heritage, re-qualification of the landscape, intervention in the public space or (re) structuring of urban infrastructure.

We are witnessing a kind of “creative heritage invention,” which is revealed through "museumification"[2] and marketing, contributing to the affirmation of touristic places. Tourism is currently regarded as the world's first industry[3] and one of the largest sources of income, intensifying as mass tourism. It is a multi-dimensional and complex activity, in evident growth, mutation and transformation that best synthesizes what is denominates as a Third Urban Revolution: self-defined by two concepts that are related in a dialectical, antagonistic and dual way: globalization and sustainability.

Emergent studies in the field incorporate, develop and express among others: new forms of urban mobility (physical and technological); the individualization of space-time; the redefinition of relations of individual, collective and general interest as well as the change of scale and form of architecture and city. They introduce changes to the Hotel_Type, understood as an element intended to provide for remuneration, temporary accommodation and other services ancillary to its operation.

The experience of the city, in spite of historical varieties, new spatiality and the temporality associated with the conception of postmodern hyperspace, continues to establish its syntactic structure in tissue that weaves semantics between what is built and what is to be built. However, it is still perceived by citizens and tourists as the nucleus of the genetic code – being here and now, where the being situates itself, organizes its immediate surroundings based on its perceptions, cognitively identifies its position in the external world capable to be mapped, in which body and built environment are able to stand as a symbol and “analogue.”[4]

To answer diverse demands of the tourist, hotel accommodations acquire different purposes such as spaces of desire and experimentation, travel extension and new experiences, including for example new functions and locations in the territory. This condition establishes new dialectics of understanding the hotel, namely: hotel as city, hotel as house / house as hotel, hotel as event, or even generic hotel. These new typologies intensify, develop and (re)create new ways of experiencing and appropriating space, from the most private to the most public or semi-public spaces that structure the hotel, opening new possibilities, questioning the concepts of domesticity, hospitality, belonging, authenticity, and the public / private sphere, among others.

This diversity paradoxically introduces not only the development of languages and narratives that introduce and re-create new codes, signs and symbolisms, driven by the latest developments in digital design and the advancement of production technologies, as well others that aim the enhancement of the integration of the hotel units in the pre-existing urban fabric contributing to the maintenance of living memory and a real and sustainable productive transformation of the “locus.”[5]

Transformations in the landscape, the cause and consequence of dominant or emerging ways of life, can be used in a positive way as an opportunity to redo and enrich social, productive, architectural, urban and landscape fabrics that do not have the means to achieve it, since they can contribute to the exhaustion and impoverishment of systems, such as natural, social and urban, in which the mono-cultivation of the architectural element of the hotel overlaps with existing structures, making buildings and pre-existences redundant, promoting progressive gentrification,[6] or thematization of the city that annuls its specificity (intrinsic values) as the destination of choice.

Therefore, a deep understanding of the following is needed:

• Different strategies and factors regarding historical, political, economic and social contexts, which has led to the continuous accelerated growth in the implementation of new hotel typologies and their respective repercussions in the broad field of architecture and its fields of activity;

• The development of legal frameworks at a global, national and local level, in order to provide specific instruments adapted to different realities since the stages of tourism growth are not contemporary or identical in different regions and cities, given the economic, social and cultural lag of their respective stages of development –although there are fundamental processes that can be considered transversal despite spatial-temporal differences;

• Questioning the inherent problem of the contemporary hotel from the point of view of architecture –as an integrated project and materialization of the dwelling (essential condition of the being), allied to an ethic "ethos,"[7] a holistic vision that integrates the locus, the memory, the imaginary and the development of culture and civilization.

• Development that ensures the growth of the three dimensions of sustainable development –economic growth, social inclusion and environmental preservation– in line with global and local strategies.

[1] Metapolis is the name given to those urban phenomena that, going beyond the metropolitan scale, free themselves from any territorial medium to base themselves on interconnection networks composed of visible means of communication. Under the denomination of metapolis, urban attributes are acquired by all those spaces which, whether they belong to the city or not, comply with the condition of taxing its resources, work forces, and habitat to the metropolis by guaranteeing its daily functioning.  Ascher defines and synthesizes the concept in five evolutions:

• Change of scale and shape of the city, characterized by the compact city, with discontinuous and polynuclear territory;

• Individualization of space-time through new technologies, namely communications, crisis of operation of equipment and services and public areas;

• Increase in urban mobility in a paradoxical way, through the instantaneous growth of physical mobility systems and technological mobility, in which the citizen does not need to take to the streets.

• City as a space for social segregation, reduction of the system of sharing, redefinition of relations of individual, collective and general interest.

• The City of all risks, as opposed to the city as a place of safety and freedom.

[2] Term used by Franoise Choay in "Heritage Issues" and by other authors such as Giorgio Agamben, often used when referring to the impacts of tourism on heritage processes and their rehabilitation

[3] 3 UNWTO (World Tourism Organisation), October 2018.

[4] Analogue, from ancient Greek is taken as analogous and According to Sartre, an equivalent of perception (such as a painting or a mental image) that is necessary for the process of imagination to take place.

[5]  Locus in Roman mythology a genius loci was the protective spirit of a place. In contemporary usage, "genius loci" usually refers to a location's distinctive atmosphere, or a "spirit of place" and to a relationship between a certain specific location and the buildings that are in it. It is at once singular and universal.

[6] This expression, initially used by Ruth Glass in 1964, and consolidated by Neil Smith in "The new urban frontiers: gentrification and the revanchist city", associated with economic and social changes, reflects the valuation of real estate, with impacts on heritage, the social segregation and the unsustainability of the life of the people with less economic power residing there.

[7] Ethos is a Greek word originally meaning "moral, showing moral character”. For Aristotle Ethos was therefore achieved through the orator's "good sense, good moral character, and goodwill", Aristotle links virtue, habituation, and ethos most succinctly in Book II of Nichomachean Ethics: "Virtue, then, being of two kinds, intellectual and moral, intellectual virtue in the main owes both its birth and its growth to teaching [...] while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit, whence also its name ethike is one that is formed by a slight variation from the word ethos (habit)"


Ascher, François. “Metapolis - Acerca do futuro da cidade”, Celta Editora, Oeiras, 1998.

Bell, Claudia and Lyall, John. “The Accelerated Sublime: Landscape, Tourism, and Identity,” Praeger, 2002.

Pereira, Luís Tavares. “Reação em Cadeia / transformações na Arquitetura do Hotel”, Fundação Serralves, 2008 .

Montagner, Josep Maria and  Muxi, Zaida “Arquitectura e Politica - ensaios para mundos alternativos”, Editorial Gustavo Gili, SL, Barcelona, 2015.

Smith, Neil. “The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City,” Routledge, 2010.

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