Radical Innovation 2019 Finalists for Futuristic Hotel Concepts

08/27/2019 By Adrian Thompson

Each year since its founding in 2006, Radical Innovation works to mobilize disruptors from around the world to propel the hospitality, travel and design industries forward. Both a competition and a community, it provides a platform for designers, hoteliers and students to submit compelling ideas for innovative hospitality concepts.

The organization recently announced the finalists for its 2019 edition: Infinite Explorer, Volumetric High-Rise Modular Hotel and Connectic. The three firms behind the futurist hotel concepts are to compete in a live pitch presentation at the New Museum in New York City in October.

After the presentations, a live-audience vote will be held to determine the grand-prize winner of $10,000 and the runner-up prize of $5,000. The competition has awarded nearly $200,000 to pioneers in hospitality and design since its conception.

The Radical Innovation jury selected this year’s finalists based on creativity and design, as well as the projects’ potential feasibility and ability to impact the industry. The three professional finalists were chosen from nearly 50 entries submitted from more than 20 countries.

In addition to the professional finalists, the jury also awarded one student winner and two student honorable mentions. All finalists will have an opportunity to meet industry experts during the fall event who can help further their concepts.

The three final professional concepts each reflect radical transformations coming to the hotel space.

1. Infinite Explorer, SB Architects, San Francisco

Infinite Explorer is a hospitality concept that helps travelers connect with remote destinations using the American West’s defunct passenger rail lines, which now span the nation. What were once bustling railways are now silent and forgotten vestiges of the past.

Back Country hotel backdrop from SB Architects
(Infinite Explorer from SB Architects: Back Country)

The Infinite Explorer provides a unique opportunity to embrace and transform the existing infrastructure of these underutilized spaces, making the unreachable, reachable.

Infinite Explorer, SB Architects
(Infinite Explorer from SB Architects: Wellness)

“There is an increased appetite for localization, and that shows no sign of slowing down,” says Matt Page, vice president and associate principal of SB Architects. “We, as designers, always look to the destination to create an authentic experience, but we will start seeing this run throughout the entire hotel, including the activity offerings and amenity program. Designing transformational spaces will be a prerequisite, allowing operators to constantly reinvent and stay refreshed to enable them to provide a unique experience each time a guest returns.”

Infinite Experience from SB Architects
(Infinite Explorer from SB Architects)

Page adds that life aboard the Infinite Explorer is about the voyage, not the end destination.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind hospitality experience, designed to switch on the senses, capture the imagination and transport guests on a journey through a mobile-canvas of captivating landscapes.”

Dusk - Infinite Explorer from SB Architects
(Infinite Explorer from SB Architects)

Each stop along the hotel’s route is different and designed with an immersive program of activities, including outdoor adventures, wellness and dining designed to astound, delight and capture the guest’s imagination at every turn.

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2. Volumetric High-Rise Modular Hotel, Danny Forster & Architecture, New York

The AC by Marriott in New York will be the tallest modular hotel in the world when it opens in early 2020. This volumetric high-rise modular hotel isn’t just a step up for modular design, it’s a step forward.

Volumetric High-Rise Modular Hotel
(Modular AC Nomad Hotel by Danny Forster & Architecture)

The building leverages the advantages of modular construction; uses cutting-edge proprietary technology to address potential drawbacks; and puts to rest the idea that a modular building can only be the sum of its factory-made parts.

“We believe modular construction will transform the hotel industry, but in order for that to happen, the barriers to entry for the design community need to be lowered and the perception that modular is cheap and limits creativity needs to be put to rest,” says Danny Forster, principal and founder of Danny Forster & Architecture. “So that's what we set out to do: build a proof of concept for modular as the next level in hotel design.”

[Check this out: Europe’s First Underwater Restaurant Open for Business]

Forster says the team was inspired by the Spanish roots of the AC brand, which foregrounds high European design. “Built of Spanish limestone, our podium has striking public spaces with dramatic ceiling heights; it meets the street not like a hotel, but like a museum.”

The hotel aims to be both stylish and architecturally expressive—80% of the building’s square footage will be shipped in constructed and completed from Poland, from the curtains and TVs, to the sconces and wall art.

6th Ave Module Hotel
(Modular AC Nomad Hotel by Danny Forster & Architecture)

Forster says that although the hotel will be the tallest modular hotel, it doesn’t look or feel modular.

“The public will mostly see and experience the dramatic public spaces on the lower level, including indoor/outdoor spaces and stadium seating,” Forster notes. “But the tower’s modularity—the fact that each factory-built room will arrive for installation with art already hung on the wall—will allow us to build in the middle of Manhattan at the almost magical pace of a floor a day. And, if we’ve done our job right, the exciting part for the guest experience is that they’ll never know how it was built.”

3. Connectic, Cooper Carry, New York

Connectic employs modular construction techniques to fill underutilized spaces by way of collapsible, modular units that are flexible and adaptable to respond to a variety of environments.

Connectic, Cooper Carry - View looking north on Marietta - solves the problem of space and density in urban areas.
(Connectic by Cooper Carry: View looking north on Marietta)

This concept could be used to build a pop-up hotel in a remote area or to help solve problems of space and density in urban areas.

Connectic interior day view
(Connectic by Cooper Carry: Interior at daytime)

Interstitial spaces between buildings, parking lots, forgotten pocket parks and above buildings offer an opportunity for hotels of the future to use Connectic’s model to increase the volume of available amenities and connect neglected spaces to existing hotels.

Connectic night view
(Connectic by Cooper Carry: Interior at night)

“There is a dichotomy between existing hotel design and Connectic, but our concept is not mutually exclusive,” explains Shraddha Srivastav Strennen, architect for Cooper Carry. “Connectic can expand an existing hotel’s footprint by attaching to the existing structure, or it can stand alone in remote idyllic locations. It is truly radical.”

Guestroom module exampleStrennen adds that Connectic is a near limitless concept bounded only by site. It can swell and shrink as needed, subsequently providing a more efficient response to demand.

The modules are also collapsible, stackable and reusable.

“We wanted to solve a multifaceted industry problem to design a concept that exemplifies sustaining innovation,” says Strennen. “How do you answer temporary, event-based demand? How do you engage unrealized interstitial spaces in dense urban cores? How do you reduce your physical footprint and increase revenue? How do you attract younger demographics? The answer requires design thinking that leads to a roadmap.”

Read next: Hotel Design Localization Helps Guests Connect to the Destination

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