Hotel and hospitality designer Jean-Philippe Nuel
has explained that working on older buildings often makes for more interesting results.
Speaking to CLAD in an interview, Nuel said: "Paradoxically, historic buildings often result in more creative projects than new builds because the constraints mean certain situations are unavoidable and this allows us to break the usual standards."
"I find historic buildings inspiring," he continued. "The project becomes a story that we already have the introduction to, and that takes us and guides us towards a new path."
Nuel has made his name designing projects including the 5 Codet in Paris, the InterContinental Hotel Dieu Marseille and Paris’ Piscine Molitor complex.
"The place already had a soul that had to be preserved," he said of the Molitor. "In Molitor we don’t have guestrooms on both sides of the corridor like a conventional new-build hotel would have. The result is that the flow becomes magical because it’s entirely glazed on one side and therefore suspended above the Roland Garros and Jean-Bouin stadiums with superb views of Paris."
His most recent project, the Intercontinental Lyon – Hotel Dieu, also sees a much-loved historic building – a famous hospital dating back eight centuries – sensitively restored to become a contemporary boutique hotel that has already won several awards for its design.
"We wanted a contemporary approach to avoid any pastiche," he explained. "Our aim was to reinterpret the original dichotomy of the building – that it was a luxurious palace to treat the poorest. We also wanted to achieve a sense of ‘humble luxury’ that corresponds to the history of the place but also to our time and to my sensitivity. The fact that it was a hospital was important, but I never wanted to express it through anecdotal references."You can read the full interview with Nuel in CLADmag 2020 issue 1.