Tuesday, February 26, 2013

4 Questions with Raphael Delstanche

Raphael Delstanche from Poland chats with us about responsible hospitality in disappearing places impacted by global warming. Mediance Hotel won an honorable mention in Radical Innovation 2011. 

I love the idea of embracing places impacted by global warming – areas that people increasingly avoid due to the dangers of natural hazards. This could save disappearing landmarks through responsible tourism. Could you walk me through what initially inspired you to create Mediance?  

Co+ developed “100 Places to Remember Before they Disappear” in 2009. Please visit their website: http://www.100places.com/. Their project exists to raise awareness about global climate change. Their goal was to reach a wide range of people around the world and to communicate our message in the most compelling way. That was my spark.

The Mediance Hotel concept goes further - this is an initiative to allow tourists to experience the impact of global warming first hand, to provide those visitors with opportunities to understand the causes and consequences of climate change, to eventually exchange knowledge and share initiatives, raise awareness and stimulate action from personal day-to-day habits to political activism, and to help preserve the precious beauty of this world we live in. Mediance Hotel invites you to an immersion in beauty of the most resonant kind.

How would visitors interact with the environment? Could you please elaborate on the indoor-outdoor shelter? 

Firstly, its design: an external intelligent electrochromic envelope, solar flexible material and clear acrilic mirror coated external finish, but see-through from inside gives you 360 degrees view to the landscape. Secondly, the mediance "mPod" addresses basic issues about the relationship between the individual and his environment and acts as a catalyst to exist in harmony with the environment to successfully fulfill himself. A tool to help reconcile the individual spirit with the environment. Reconnecting the individual with nature is one of the great challenges of an urbanized society. Thirdly, Mediance Hotel offers an opportunity to bring man’s relationship to nature into the forefront, highlights the individual’s connection to nature through the medium of a man-made shelter, an attempt to bring nature, the shelter and the human being to a higher unity. Ultimately this is an indoor-outdoor architectural shelter simultaneously independent of and intertwined with the domain of nature.

What are the barriers you need to overcome in order for Mediance to become a reality? 

It should work like the wonderful Patagonia Sur initiative. A for-profit company that invests in, protects, and enhances of course but also scenically remarkable and ecologically valuable properties in Chilean Patagonia. Mediance should be similar but also including our values of mission driven environmental hotel. I would love to see 30 pods in Yellowstone, the oldest national park of the United States. The park is an awesome region of wilderness, mountains, geysers, hot springs, lakes, canyons, and rivers, and attracts several million visitors yearly. Yellowstone National Park experiences summers like that of Los Angeles. These warm temperatures will imperil everything from native cutthroat trouts to aspen forests, and the $700 million in annual economic activity that they and other gems in the park generate by attracting tourists.

How did Radical Innovation push you to develop your ideas? 

Radical Innovation is one of the few platforms for progressive hospitality. It gives designers the possibility of expressing new ideas in a generally conservative and risk-adverse industry. John Hardy has a deep understanding and love for this industry. And this competition proves it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jena, MD at Eagle Rock Ventures, on her all-time favorite project

"Over the last few years of being a juror for the Radical Innovation awards, I have seen some very interesting ideas.  MORPHotels was an entry that grabbed my attention right away. Its ethereal form and the manner in which it moves within the water are mesmerizing."

"It is hard not to image the serenity a guest might feel as they stay at MORPH. By being staged on water, this project brings a new dimension to real estate and can provide many more site options throughout the world."   

"Additionally, the self-sufficiency aspect of the project was a unique facet that galvanized my vote in 2012. In my opinion, this is innovative, inspiring and frankly what we need to move towards. As jurors, we wrestle with reconciling innovative thoughts with their feasibility; this project seemed to nail both. I am sure we will see MORPHotels – or something similar – in our lifetime."

Friday, February 15, 2013

4 Questions with Carly Cannell

Carly, founder of the two-time finalist design firm weetu, talks to us about the importance of revitalizing local economies by making the most out of what we already have on Earth. 

2007, Runner-up: MoMotel by Carly Cannell, Kevin Estrada and Linda Wallack 
2010, Honorable Mention: Trespass by Carly Cannell, Kevin Estrada, Carmen Cervantes and Daniel Knobloch

[In photo on the left: Carly Cannell and Kevin Estrada]

Reading about your proposals for MoMotel and Trespass, you seem to be very focused on reimagining and improving on existing hospitality concepts, rather than creating an extreme forms of lodging. Could you explain your motivation behind this?

Oddly enough, it almost seems more extreme to provide a unique experience for the average budget traveler. weetu is motivated to provide innovative hospitality concepts to the mass population, not just an elite few. For both concepts, we aimed for high impact within an American landscape by reusing what already exists, and re-imagining how the hospitality experience can by transformed through design, localization, reuse, sustainable thinking and entertainment. Our design solutions solve urban planning, architecture, and real estate challenges with this combination of reality and vision.

MoMotel: I wish MoMotel were up and running because it solves all problems I run into at other motels. Which cities do you see this model working the most successfully? Why?

I wish it was up and running too! The idea was born from an amalgamation of torturous business trip accommodations. MoMotel, a concept that transforms existing roadside motels, was envisioned along historic or busy routes at perimeters of working cities. To capture both air and road warriors, we intended to target locations reached by budget airlines like Southwest. Regional context and local culture is inherent to the success of MoMotel in both design and experience, so it's beneficial to target regions with a story to tell.

Trespass: The application of adaptive reuse is so relevant to the problems we’re facing today. What challenges do you have to overcome to make this concept a reality?

Adaptive reuse is relevant, but it's not enough. As an industry, we have to shift how we approach design. It's often easier to start from scratch than to solve existing problems. The trend of "dying malls" and empty big box stores is worsening. Trespass is a component-based hospitality concept that resuscitates those empty shells to invigorate the community and provide a sense of place... a destination.  Trespass needs a community to respond to, to revitalize its economy by engaging local business and resources. In many locations, it's probably too late. The biggest challenge would be to find the right investors.

Having done so incredibly well at Radical Innovation twice, what do the prizes mean to you? Any plans for a third shot at the competition?

Within the first weeks of opening our doors, weetu created and submitted our MoMotel concept. It was great recognition and an excellent experience to come to HD to present our ideas and to compete with huge, established entities. Two years later, we entered again with 'Trespass'.  We've no plans this year, but we'd love to try our hand at a 3/3 record.