A fairytale at the brutalist President Hotel penned by architects Pizinger

19. 3. 2021

A fairytale at the brutalist President Hotel penned by architects Pizinger

The President Hotel built in the brutalist style on the Vltava embankment in the centre of Prague has undergone very careful reconstruction in recent years. The architectural work was taken on by the Morix studio of husband and wife Jaromír and Naďa Pizinger. According to them, creating the hotel’s interior is mainly about atmosphere. “It’s about a dream or fairytale in which we all want to be when on holiday,” says architect Naďa Pizinger. The general contractor, Italian construction company HLG STAV BOTTOLI, s.r.o., headed by technical manager Ing. arch. Giovanni Calá, chose SAPELI Unlimited to supply the doors and atypical customised designs. 

What exactly did you design and change in the famous Prague President Hotel?

Jaromír: We have been working on the reconstruction of the President Hotel for the fifth year now. All parts of the hotel complex, from the hotel rooms, to the lobby, reception and restaurant, were gradually reconstructed and converted. We also created the new hotel spa in the basement. But we also came up with a new concept for the exterior – specifically the facade of the famous brutalist building.

Naďa: The newest extension on the sixth floor is the last stage of the long-term reconstruction so that for us it is a sort of “cherry on the cake”, and an honour for us to be able to work on this project. We participated in the design of the outer facade and in the layout of the new floor and interiors of the entire extension where the most luxurious hotel rooms are and also the restaurant – Sky bar with an unbeatable view of Prague Castle.

Did you build on the style of the previous work done in the interiors of the lobby and ground floor conference room on the new 6th floor?

Jaromír: Yes, we followed up on the concept of the interior which we had laid on the ground floor rooms. The aim was for the hotel to inter-communicate overall. But the intention on this floor was to create an even more luxurious setting as to the standard. So suites and rooms of the highest quality were created and this also applies to the materials used as well as their fixtures and fittings.

What inspired you?

Naďa: The hotel had to be revitalised. It may be located in a top spot in the centre of Prague, but its fixtures and fittings did not meet the required standards. Obviously, it posed a great challenge for us given the fact that the President Hotel forms a prominent and unique architectural landmark on the river embankment in the city centre which probably can no longer be replicated with a similar boldness. Today it would evidently not be possible to obtain permission for such controversial buildings to be built among the historical housing.

Jaromír: In the designs of the interior and modifications of the exterior we wanted to continue with the brutalist aesthetics which is the architectural style in which the building is constructed. But we also wanted to bring the architecture up to present standards and today’s aesthetics so it would create the most pleasant impression for future users, as well as for Prague visitors and its residents.

Your studio had designed hotel interiors in the past? Is there anything specific about this work?

Jaromír: In recent years we had been working on several hotel projects, not just in Prague, but also in west Bohemia where there is a strong spa tradition. The work on these projects is highly specific and it has always been a challenge for us. I think it’s about being able to empathise with the hotel guest, but also and always with the operator.  

Naďa: What is important is to correctly perceive the standard of the hotel in the context of the target client. It is about creating atmospheres and in a way a dream or fairytale, in which we all want to be when on holiday. We want to enter a different reality, be surrounded by different tones, sensory and visual perceptions.

People are often inspired by hotel room interiors at home? Do you think about this during your work? Or how are trends written into this work?

Naďa: We have often been contacted by clients to create an apartment inspired by the hotel at which clients felt good when on holiday. On the one hand, it is understandable that people allow themselves to be influenced in their private life, but on the other hand they must consider the time factor and perhaps to a certain extent the commonplace. Our experience shows that hotel rooms often play with stronger and more distinctive compositions and expressive features, since this can be highly attractive for a short stay. But every day life is something else and can withstand something else…

On the other hand this is a hotel of the 1970s so is the time when it was built reflected in any way in your interior? 

Jaromír: Certainly. The aesthetics of the interiors which were unique to this building were one of the motifs which we followed. This is particularly displayed in our designs for the wall cladding and in the form of selected furniture. We worked with wall cladding in distinctive wood veneers such as American walnut. We came up with an interesting graphic concept and a combination of stone wall tiles in the rooms, structured plastic joinery tiles, while the use of marble is also typical.

Did the assignment from the hotel and its categorisation limit you in any way? 

Jaromír: The investor did not limit us in the assignment. We were lucky that our designs matched the investor’s vision. He placed his full trust in us.

When choosing a door supplier, why did you pick SAPELI Unlimited?

Naďa: In the design we played with the use of several types of doors so they would always complement the expressive composition of the room. For SAPELI this would probably not be a standard order. We appreciate the patience of SAPELI Unlimited all the more in its approach to our designs and atypical details that were essential to us.

Did you encounter any problems on the construction site during the installation of doors that needed to be resolved? 

Jaromír: Yes, of course… there are always problems on a construction site that need to be resolved. Logically, there were problems here too. As for the doors, not all of our ideas could be realised in the way we had anticipated in the plans, mainly due to the technical and fire safety limits. However, thanks to the contractor, we were able to stick to them as much as possible.

The doors delivered to the President Hotel were very atypical and diverse…

Naďa: Yes, we used both classic revolving doors in hidden doorframes and ones that slide into a case. In surface treatment, we worked with simple highly durable doors for the background of the Sky bar to luxury veneers and glass. We also used SAPELI Unlimited glass walls, which separate the bathrooms from the rooms. 

Did work on the President Hotel bring any experience that could be used in your further work?

Naďa: Definitely … or rather confirmed our work beliefs and approach to contracts, where despite the difficulties during preparation and actual realisation, it is always important to insist on the planned aesthetic concepts and details right up to the very last moment. In short, to never give up!

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