Facade Type: Refurbishment/ Extension | Architect: Enterprise A&D | Location: Bucharest, Romania
A brand new Hilton Garden Inn Hotel has opened recently in the historic centre of Bucharest. The building is located at the end of Smardan street – an important pedestrian route in the city centre – and right next to the impressive historic building of the National Bank of Romania. Even though it sits amongst many buildings of great historical and cultural importance, the recently opened hotel attracts all the attention due to its renovated facades and its distinct contemporary rooftop.
Architect: Enterprise Architecture&Design
Project Leader: Arch. Carmen Tănase
Collaborators: Arch. Ana Cîmpeanu, Ing. Alexandru Tănase, Arch. Andreea Bogdan (Planning Stage), Arch. Loredana Salavastru (Concept Stage)
Structural Engineer: Professional Construct
Mechanical Engineer: MC General Construct
Main contractor: Consola
Project/ Site Management: Vitalis Consulting; Optim Project Management
Interior Designer: Alin Dobrescu, Dovile Drumeliene
The original building is dating from 1886 and it was acquired in 2015 with the intention to convert it into a four-star hotel. The task has been assigned to architectural practice Enterprise A&D who was captivated by the Art Deco allure of the historic building and has developed a project which retains and restores the important features of the building and creates a contemporary rooftop extension using Art Deco-inspired elements.
The original building was designed by Austrian architect Adolf Lang in 1886 and it initially had only two storeys and a mansard roof. Due to its location in the busy historical centre of Bucharest, the building has been used intensively during its more than 130 years of life and has been through many works of extension and restoration.
The most radical transformation is the consolidation and extension from 1931 when extra floors were added on top of the construction causing it to double in height. The intervention completely transformed the building and gave it a new appearance which remained constant until the 2015-2017 works.
As part of the refurbishment works carried in 1931, the existing brick walls have been doubled by an extra layer of bricks. This intervention resulted in a complete redesign of the first and second-floor facades and the building received a new appearance that would harmonize with the extension and the architectural influences of that time.
Today the architecture of the original facade can only be spotted at the ground floor where some of the facade ornaments remind us of the XIXth century. Through the years the facades of the upper levels acquired new geometrical motifs to match the architectural style of the thirties-forties and the Art Deco influences of the time.
The building was badly affected In the 1977 earthquake and it was urgently consolidated using metal thrusts anchored in the wall with train track pieces. Even though it was poorly consolidated, the building continued to be occupied by several businesses up until the year 2000 when, in an advanced state of decay, is abandoned for more than a decade.
The recent revitalisation of the city centre has raised the commercial interest in the area and in 2015 the building was acquired with the plan to convert it into a four-star hotel.
The Art Deco allure of the historic building has been embraced by architecture practice Enterprise A&D whose design aims to preserve and enhance this character and extend the building in the same manner while maintaining a contemporary vocabulary.
The architectural language is based on repetition and layering. Horizontal lines are dominating the facade configuration on both the original elevation and the extension and the repetition of same elements creates a consistent image.
The new addition creates tension and contrast between the original base with classical elements and the contemporary rooftop.
The historic facade
The architecture of the historic facade has been preserved and the renovation has been done using materials which match the building’s original fabric. The light-toned render finish contrasts delicately with the light grey aluminium cladding of the rooftop extension and complements the National Bank’s facade, located oppositely. The window frames are made of timber and their rigorous cross section is inspired from the era when the facade was built. The existing metal balustrades, which feature geometric motifs specific to the Art Deco style, have been reconditioned and remounted in the same place.
The building has two main entrances, one at each of the two corners. Above the main entrances, the Architect has added two corresponding canopies made of metal and glass. The delicate metalwork has an abstract pattern inspired by Art Deco motifs.
The metal door which marked the original main entrance from Doamnei Street has a rigorous decoration specific to the era when the facade was initially built. The metal work pattern is set against a glass pane and the door is semi-transparent letting light inside the building. The door has been reconditioned and remounted to its original position and its transparency creates continuity between the outside and the inside of the building.
The rooftop extension
The transition between the historic facade and the contemporary language happens at the 5th floor. The facade takes the appearance of a mansard roof with the windows looking like roof lights reinterpreted in a contemporary manner.
At the sixth and seventh floor, the windows have a different scale and proportion, creating a sequence of projecting volumes, reinterpreted bow-windows, through which the hotel guests can admire the city centre. The solid walls between the bow-windows are composed of glazed shadow-boxes which have a light green satin finish creating a nice contrast with the dark grey aluminium window surrounds. The seventh-floor facade is taller so it can hide the hotel’s technical equipment.
The corners are marked by two tall volumes. Their shape finds inspiration in Bucharest’s Art Deco buildings designed in the thirties which featured strong vertical lines and gradual facade recesses.
Construction works included façade retention, de-construction of existing building structure, integration of a new structure and construction of a three storeys extension.
The works of consolidating and restoring the historic facade have been very challenging – the construction occupies the whole parcel and this generated very complicated site logistics with all the works having to be done from the inside of the building.
Site investigations have brought up the existence of two parallel facades – the original facade from 1886 and a secondary brick layer, which was added in 1931. After long debates, the building has been consolidated using steel beams placed at the external perimeter of each floor slab. The steel beams tie together the two existing facades connecting them with the building’s structure.
The main structure had to be redesigned and the building has gone through an extensive process of consolidation and integration of a new metal structure. The construction works could only be done from the inside of the building and the decision for a metal structure offered more flexibility and speed of construction.
The addition of the rooftop extension was a very challenging intervention which changed the appearance of the building. On the first floor of the extension (fifth floor of the building), the facade is clad with an aluminium rainscreen system which has a light grey finish. The roof lights have a similar finish and are made of extruded aluminium profiles which have been assembled off-site and then craned into position.
Second and third floors of the extension (sixth and seventh floors of the building) feature full height bay windows with aluminium surrounds. The window surrounds are made of bespoke extruded aluminium profiles which have been assembled on site due to their large proportions.
The opaque walls between the bow-windows are made of glass shadowboxes with a light green satin finish so they don’t reflect light.
The thermal envelope differs from floor to floor depending on the facade type. The historic facade is made of 500mm dense brick walls which have been finished with mineral wool insulation and plasterboard on the internal side. Because it had to be restored only with traditional materials, the historic facade had to be insulated on the internal side only. This allowed keeping the initial appearance of this historic facade intact and preserving its original wall decoration.