As far away as the notion of travel has existed, having at one’s disposal a place to sleep has cadenced and conditioned people’s movements. In the west, industrial society developed a means of contractual hospitality which grants access to a domestic space when far from home, for a price. A comfortable and safe domesticity accessible anywhere, hotel rooms become the sine qua non condition for a boom in diplomacy, tourism, and commercial trade. “From one end of the planet to another, the traveller knows what to expect […] he can find the illusion of familiarity and calm his anxieties anywhere.”
“A room elsewhere. Architects’ hotels”
17 February – 17 March, 2019
Montée de Noailles, 83400 Hyères,
Hotel rooms, as a subject of study, appear at the point of a double genealogy: that of a bedroom and a means of hospitality. As a space for resting and sanctuary, bedrooms remain a recent invention which, in the west, sources its origins in modern domesticity and the conjoined structuring of both home and family. As a room, the “bedroom” compiles the qualities of security, intimacy, and comfort necessary for the dis-robed body to drift off.
The hotel belongs to a long succession of means of hospitality (hostels, bivouacs, caravanserais and campsites) regrouping typologies that are in constant evolution: furnished rooms, halls of residence, motels, resorts, palaces. Before creating specific architectures, hospitality as a moral value anchored within traditions and notably prescribed by Judeo-Christian religions, was central to accommodation. Welcoming a stranger without a commercial exchange is a fact that many cultures still share.
The beginning of the 21st Century brought about a profound change in modes of hospitality. Population movement greatly increased. Traditional establishments found themselves in collapse faced with the
availability of private residencies, available both freely and for a fee for travellers. Hospitality inscribed as a legal and moral obligation in pre-industrial society, became an offence. In France, “any person who might have, either through direct or indirect assistance […] facilitated the illegal residence of a foreigner in France will be punished with imprisonment for five years and a fine of 30 000 euros.”
Confronted with all of the politicisation of hospitality and the multiplication and entanglement of travellers’ identities, hotels, like hostels might have been in the Middle Ages, seem like a bygone means of hospitality to which a form of nostalgia is attached. Alongside its development, but above all in the twentieth century, the hospitality trade has long been a reoccurring décor for novels and films. The sum of these representations grant the hotel with a unique status as a “machine for fictions, fantasies” as the author J-J. Schuhl explains. Staying in a hotel is accompanied by the promise of adventures.
Whether they are developed within the framework of an architecture diploma, a biennial, a research project or a more conventional commission, the projects chosen for the exhibition “A Room Elsewhere” belong to both the phantasmagoria of the hotel as a locus for possibilities far from home, whilst also exhibiting a desire to find new means of hospitality that are far removed from the established norms. Through projects, the exhibition approaches the rituals and the completed spaces by and for voluntary visitors, whether they are tourists, workers, or wanderers. It also exhibits a different kind of domesticity, which is unhesitating in testing out forms which daily life does not permit.
With projects by:
Bearth & Deplazes (Switzerland) Con Con (France)
Paul Cournet (Netherlands) Low (Belgium)
Stéphane Maupin (France) Christian Merlhiot (France)
NL Architects (Netherlands)
OMA Rem Koolhaas (Netherlands) PEAKS + Simon Boudvin (France) Paule Perron (France)
Pila Studio (USA)
Guy Rottier (France)
Schemata Architects (Japan) Jack Self (United Kingdom)
Philippe Starck (France) TATO Architects (Japan) UHO (France)
Jean-Benoît Vétillard + Matteo Ghidoni (France) Paul Vincent (France)
With the participation of Jean-Jacques Schuhl