Sheraton Hotel

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Architects: King & Roselli Architetti, Rome, Italy
Location: Malpensa Airport, Varese, Italy

King Roselli Architetti is an architecture and design practice concerned with the conception, development and realisation of projects which range from new buildings to designed objects.

King Roselli Architetti was commissioned to design the exteriors of this large hotel in front of Malpensa International Airport as a result of competition winning entry for the overall design of the building.

Despite its size (420m long, 64m wide, 21m high) the building was conceived as a design object. Partly because Milan is Italy’s design capital, and partly because they were interested in investigating the technical and architectural properties of a skin or membrane to be perceived dynamically as façade not only on its four sides but also the roof- visible from the access road to the airport complex. The hotel has 436 rooms, a conference centre, a spa accessible directly from the airport.

The layouts of the rooms are organised in seven bays separated by courtyards which give a bar-code form to the plan and avoid a direct view from the airport into guest rooms. The western face of the hotel is left open to emphasis the horizontality of the volume with shallow water pools set into the lower level at the ends.

Façade On the open side these blocks of rooms articulate the façade in an irregular sequence of solid and void. The solids in turn are articulated by a series of thick sculptural PVC blackout curtains which give both depth and dynamic to the overall elevation. Though normally considered an item of interior design, the black-out curtains were seen as an integral part of the façade from an early stage. The regularity on the mullion and transom grid is syncopated by the irregularity of the curtains seen through the extra-clear glass.

The reception hall is also developed with walls made of a white satin PVC membrane with recessed spots and natural plants on the back. The movement of people as they arrive and leave the airport, the tension created between solid and void, curved and straight line, the play of light reflected off and through the building , provide a variation of views and give a dynamic to the architecture that were looking for.

Technical info: Satin PVC membrane
Picture credits: Santi Caleca