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Best references: the Hotel Andaz in Munich

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Anyone designing a building that will attract a wide variety of cosmopolitan travellers needs to be particularly sensitive to the requirements and tastes of its guests. This sensitivity is very much apparent in the work of the architects of the new Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor Hotel; a 35,000 m2 building that uniquely combines local tradition with international influences. The hotel is also emblematic of an ambitious project to revitalise the architecture of the entire Schwabinger Tor district. A permanent fixture in the hotel: switches manufactured by Hager.

In almost every detail, Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor, which opened its doors in the heart of the Bavarian capital in February 2019, reflects the creative spirit of the neighbourhood. With 277 rooms and 43 suites, it is also one of the larger projects that Munich has seen in recent years. And even if Covid-19 has dampened the desire for travel and tourism, we will still need places for overnight stays, conferences and meetings in the future. How do you design a hotel that welcomes guests from a wide range of different cultures? What is it that makes an outstanding hotel?

Interview with Melanie Knüwer, interior designer at concrete, an architect company in Amsterdam, which designed the hotel for the Hyatt Group.

Ms. Knüwer, when you check into a hotel as an interior designer, what aspects do you pay particular attention to?

The most important thing is the general atmosphere of the room. In addition to interior design and materials, good lighting is also key. So when we design a hotel, we already indicate the effect the lighting will create on the very first sketches. In the foyer of the Andaz Hotel, for example, guests are greeted by video installations showing the sky above Munich. Everything is very bright and open. The foyer then leads into the bar and lounge area. The more intimate lighting in this area creates a relaxed atmosphere. The way you are greeted by staff is just as important, the welcome you receive as a guest should not be stiff and inflexible, it should be friendly and professional.

In a hotel, you have to be able to discover and experience things you don’t have at home.

Melanie Knüwer

If you could spend a weekend at any three hotels in the world, which would you choose?

I love Scandinavia, so I’d choose the Treehotel in Sweden, a tree house with mirrored exterior walls that blends completely into nature. Secondly, the Public Hotel in New York, an interesting design in a fantastic city. Finally, the Waterhouse at South Bund Hotel in Shanghai, a very modern design that contrasts with the industrial character of the building.

Should a hotel be a home from home or as different as possible?

First of all, you should feel comfortable as a guest, so it should certainly be a home from home in that sense. On the other hand, you have to be able to discover and experience things in the hotel that you don’t have at home. The luxury of disconnecting from the digital world, for example. The greatest luxury today is no longer to have golden taps, it’s having time to yourself. A good hotel should offer this luxury to its guests.

What do you think: How will Covid-19 change hotels and their architecture?

It is clear that the virus will have an impact on our travel habits and therefore on what we require from a hotel. Conversely, I don’t believe that we will all stay at home in the future and limit our encounters to zoom conferences. How exactly hygiene requirements and safety needs can be reconciled with tourism and hotel architecture in the future is just one of the questions we at concrete are currently working on.

What influenced you and your colleagues when designing Andaz Schwabinger Tor?

Andaz is Hyatt’s young lifestyle brand that offers a new take on luxury. A strong connection to the local area is integral to this, an Andaz in Lisbon will look very different to an Andaz in Tokyo or Vienna. That’s why our work began with intensive research. We took a close look at Munich and let the project developer show us the most interesting places. Based on our research, we then developed a concept with strong local influences that are not just hackneyed clichés.

Why did you select Berker R.classic and Berker 1930 switches?

This range of switches has a timeless beauty. They blend perfectly into the high-quality interior of the rooms, which, at 42 m2, are almost small suites. Another plus point was that we were able to specify the soft-touch finish we wanted and have Hager Manufaktur tailor-make this for us. The switches therefore not only add exceptionally beautiful details, they are also unique. It is the sum of all these small details that makes a hotel like the Andaz unique.

The Berker R.classic switch series is one of the most popular features in the hotel.

For whom did you develop Andaz Schwabinger Tor? How would you describe the target audience for this hotel?

Modern nomads who are looking for and appreciate a new kind of luxury. A luxury characterised by quality of design, spaciousness, peace and time for yourself. They find all this and more at Andaz Schwabinger Tor.

A hotel should never stick out like a sore thumb; it should be a welcome, unobtrusive neighbour.

Melanie Knüwer

What would you say makes a hotel like the Andaz a success?

When the hotel is also accepted by the locals. It is a hallmark of success when guests and locals talk to one another. A hotel should never stick out like a sore thumb in its local area; it should be a welcome, unobtrusive neighbour. This is achieved in the spa area of the Andaz, for example, which is also open to non-residents and in the coffee bar Bicicletta, where you can grab a quick coffee and catch up with your neighbours, as well as in the M’Uniquo Rooftop Bar, from which you can see the distant Alps in good weather. My tip for a perfect Schwabing evening is to visit the rooftop bar at around 5 in the evening and enjoy a drink at sunset.

Melanie Knüwer

German interior designer Melanie Knüwer is a project manager at the Amsterdam-based architecture firm concrete, which specialises in hospitality projects. She is currently developing a 6-star hotel in the Netherlands.

Hager Manufaktur
One for all

Hager Manufaktur is responsible for the three artisan brands Hager, Berker and Elcom. We manufacture perfectly harmonised solutions, from custom cable ducts, unique switches and operating elements to coordinating door communication systems. Our portfolio ranges from modified series products to customised special editions, such as the Berker R.classic with soft-touch finish for the Hotel Andaz Schwabinger Tor.

Hager Manufaktur is thus an example of exceptional customer orientation. Thanks to state-of-the-art technical equipment, such as CNC-controlled punching machines, we manufacture components in the shortest possible time – even for a batch of one on special request.

In this way, every residential and functional building is given exactly the degree of personality it needs. All of the products are made in Germany with everything from a single source. And because we work with ultra-modern processes and tools, highly personalised solutions from Hager Manufaktur are quick to produce and exceptional value for money.

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