Zander K: A hotel for a rainy day. A new Bergen design hotel for the modern-minded traveller.
A 1930s parking garage. A 1920s bike shop. An empty space between them. Possibly not the dream starting point for an architect tasked with creating the most forward-thinking hotel in the city, but the Swedish firm Claesson Koivisto Rune is not one to shy away from a challenge. Today, those heritage façades front a 249-bedroom design hotel right in the centre of Bergen. This is Zander K, the most energetic and contemporary member of the De Bergenske family of five Bergen hotels.
Three Into One
Having already designed the Baroque-meets-mid-century Villa Terminus, Claesson Koivisto Rune took a very different approach to the creation of Zander K. Rather than knocking down the old buildings and starting from scratch with a single huge edifice, the architects have ingeniously united the two existing structures with a modern addition in between – coloured a deep blue to echo the shade of the Bergen sky. By discreetly adding two extra floors and following the geometry of the buildings’ window grid, the architects have created a visually distinct triptych frontage. The effect is that Zander K looks much smaller than it actually is; a design that, with typical Norwegian modesty, is perfectly in keeping with the architectural language of the Bergen streets.
Zander K’s exterior isn’t the only nod of respect to its home city. Inside, one of the dominant motifs is rain, which is found in playful bespoke artworks by Swedish artist Jesper Waldersten, rainfall-patterned curtains, and postcards featuring nuggets of watery wisdom such as: Some people walk in the rain. Others just get wet. After all, the Bergen climate is notorious for its precipitation (those glorious mountain views come at a meteorological price), so, architect Eero Koivisto figures, why not make the most of it?
Bergen is world famous for its yearly rainfall – you almost expect it to rain when visiting. The truth is that even if it rains often, it’s usually for a very short time. There’s a lot of sun as well. We thought that by embracing this well-known fact we would introduce a unique angle to the project. Honestly, what’s nicer than being inside a cosy hotel with a glass of red wine in your hand, while looking at the rain outdoors?
The Nature of Materials
The hotel’s connection to the natural world and the Norwegian landscape also comes across in the interior palette – a soothing canvas of blues, whites and greys set alongside locally sourced wood and stone, creating both a feeling of calm and an authentic sense of place. In the lobby area – a vast, multifunctional space flanked on one side by a relaxed lounge and on the other by the hotels’ all-day restaurant, Matbar – the scattered-leaf-pattern tiled floor and irregularly positioned pillars evoke a distinctly forest-like ambience, whereas an abundance of solid wood, exposed concrete, polished marble, velvet textiles and dark reflective glass turn the whole space into a theatre of material tactility.
Aside from Arne Jacobsen lighting and a handful of carefully selected furniture, most of Zander K’s interior features have been designed by Claesson Koivisto Rune and custom-made for the hotel. Their innumerable design contributions include mirror-finished stainless steel desks, softened with rounded edges; gridlined wallpaper and those distinctively playful ‘Summer Rain’ curtains, so that, even when Bergen’s weather fails to live up to expectations, you can pull across the semi-transparent curtain and make it rain. The two-tone bedside table (named ‘The Zander’) presents an uneven contrasts of light and dark woods – as do the tabletops of the Matbar, which are in turn reflected in the steam-bent Thonet seating that accompany them. These have been created by cross-assembling chairs in different wood types, resulting in a striking contrast of natural materials.
Both the hotel and the street it is located on – Zander Kaaes gate – take their name from Alexander Kaae, an 18th-century Bergenser merchant who dedicated his fortune to the establishment of a foundation to help those who had fallen on hard times. The building that housed this, 150 metres to the north, is now Villa Terminus. Despite its affordable room rates (starting around £100 a night), Zander K the hotel is far from a home from the destitute, and bears not a trace of the 1700s in its ultra-modern appearance. But, like its namesake, it takes pride in its warm, forward-looking approach, and is decidedly a product of its city. It may be a new addition to Bergen, but Zander K definitely belongs there.
Zander K: A hotel for a rainy day. A new Bergen design hotel for the modern-minded traveller.A 1930s parking garage. A 1920s bike shop. An empty space between them. Possibly not the dream starting point for an architect tasked with creating the most forward-thinking hotel in the city, but the Swedish firm Claesson Koivisto Rune is not one to shy away from a challenge. Today, those heritage façades front a 249-bedroom design hotel right in the centre of Bergen. This is Zander K,...
- Year 2017
- Work finished in 2017
- Status Completed works
- Type Hotel/Resorts