World’s tallest Novotel crowns Canary Wharf
The world’s tallest Novotel and a new flagship for the brand, Novotel Canary Wharf is an iconic, stunning new 39 storey addition to the Canary Wharf skyline.
Located at Marsh Wall on the Isle of Dogs, the hotel, which opened in March, boasts 313 bedrooms, 26 individually designed suites, a state of the art gym and pool, nine fully equipped meeting rooms, and Bokan – a contemporary restaurant, bar and roof terrace with panoramic views across London.
The building was constructed for AccorHotels, with Indecs Contracts as main fit out contractors, Inco as structural main contractors, Leach Rhodes Walker as architects and Koncept ID as lead interior designers.
Canary Wharf was once a thriving port, alive with the smell, taste and touch of exotic spices, tea, rum, coffee and silk, which were imported from the West and East Indies. The distinctive interior design was inspired by Canary Wharf’s rich maritime history.
Jennifer Preston associate interior designer of Koncept ID said: “We have carried out many projects for Accor in the past and have been awarded a lot of repeat work from them. Also our sister company is Leach Rhodes Walker Architects, who designed the building.
“We were selected as interior designers after pitching for the project, and worked to Accor’s brief, which required that we design something which was completely unique, unlike any other Novotel, and above and beyond the brand’s standards.
“The brief also includes the provision of elements of surprise, fun and excitement, to generate a new customer experience. Other key elements were the need to provide a harmonious, comfortable yet functional environment, as well as being ‘fluid and intuitive’.
“This last element was very important, since the hotel has a very small footprint and it is essential that the design encourages customers to circulate vertically to all floors. This was a key challenge of the design.”
The interior design of the hotel is also inspired by Canary Wharf’s industrial maritime age and the Canary Islands. Throughout the building there are references to the port’s rich heritage.
Jennifer Preston said: “From the use of authentic materials, patterns and textures coupled with the bespoke contemporary furniture, a truly unique interior has been created which is true to its roots, delighting the senses and bringing the industrial past into the present, based on a theme of industrial shipping meets the tropical Canaries.”
The reception area features an open lobby concept without a traditional counter, with the aim being to make guests feel that they are being welcomed by staff, rather than ‘processed’.
This area includes a huge timber wall made up of boxes which project at different angles and can be used both for storage as well as the display of ornamental items. The feature wall also contains a concealed door leading to a small back office.
Another key feature of the reception is the central staircase, which stretches from the ground to the second floor, was constructed on a podium and features a series of copper rods which appear to suspend the staircase from the underside of the second floor slab. Again, the aim of this design is to encourage guests to circulate upwards to other floors.
The Le Club Lounge on the first floor has been designed to provide a comfortable, homely and relaxing environment and incorporates features such as banquette seating, a fireplace and a long sharing table.
The palette of materials used includes warm tones and textures such as timber and distressed metal and copper. The lighting is also designed to give a pleasant ambience and can be adjusted according to the time of day.
Meeting rooms located on the first floor and the second of the building include the Crate Room, Spice Room Log Room Tobacco Dock Room, West India Room, The Rum room, The Coffee Room and The Silk Room.
Jennifer Preston said: “The Crate Room takes inspiration from the fruit crates that were used to transport fruit from the Canary Islands to Canary Wharf. The design includes specially constructed replica crates which stack up against one wall and then run across the ceiling, forming a sculptural feature in the room. We also covered the meeting room table top with a number of ‘vintage’ fruit crate labels which not only form an aesthetically pleasing table, but also create a talking point.”
The Spice Room is inspired by the many spices that were imported into Canary Wharf. This room has a more informal, relaxed atmosphere and offers a number of high end comfortable seating options, as well as an impressive feature wall which is adorned with jars and bottles of spices.
The Log Room is inspired by the logs that were imported into Canary Wharf, which were bound with large ropes. This room features two full height tree trunks which extend up through the ceiling, adding a dramatic effect. The room includes a large scale feature ‘rough sawn’ veneered table, surrounded by a number of feature chairs, each with a special binding on the arms. The feature rope lights are a conversation piece, while the industrial-looking corten steel effect wall and side board add warmth and texture to the room.
Located off the main breakout area overlooking the dramatic feature staircase, the spacious Tobacco Dock Room features an unconventionally shaped table and provides a stylishly industrial, yet comfortable meeting space.
The smallest of the meeting rooms, The West India Room provides a charming and cosy space off the main breakout area – divided by a crittal effect partition inspired by the crittal windows featured within the dock warehouse buildings.
East India Room is the largest of the meeting rooms and provides a vast area in which the furniture can be re-configured to suit a range of functions. The large scale levitating tables add drama to the space and can be lowered down from the ceiling to provide a formal conference space.
The Rum Room is much a ‘gentleman’s’ room and features a reclaimed barrel stave wall, a bottle wall and a series of amber pendants, as well as a large tapering meeting table, all of which were designed with the theme of rum in mind – which was once imported into Canary Wharf.
Designed as a ‘relaxed and fun’ meeting room, The Coffee Room features oversized horseshoe-shaped banquette seating stamped with coffee logos and slogans. The printed ‘feet’ in the carpet are a subliminal message encouraging guests to take their shoes off, kick back and ‘put their feet up’.
The Silk Room is a dramatic space housing a more traditional table which is surrounded by a feature curtain, which when parted to enter the space are designed to create a ‘silk cocoon’ effect. This is further enhanced by the whitewashed floorboards which run up the walls and across the ceiling.
Moving on to the subject of the hotel’s bedrooms, Jennifer Preston said: “For the standard bedrooms, we implemented an Accor design, but used a newly-created concept for each of the hotels 23 suites, which include Junior, Executive and Presidential. These range in terms of size, materials used and features incorporated – for example there are some open bathrooms in the Presidential suites. Again, the overall ‘industrial’ theme of the design is continued in the bedrooms, but with a much softer, elegant and more comfortable feel.
“Accor were very pleased with the interior design which has been very well and very positively received – including complements about the uniqueness of the scheme and how the concept takes into account Canary Wharf and it’s industrial heritage.
“This is probably one of the biggest projects that we have worked on to date and has been very enjoyable.”
The project to construct the hotel initially involved the demolition of a 1990s office building.
The new hotel is a glazed tower, comprising of projecting ‘yellow box’ features at lower levels, and using a mixture of different glazing and frit types with a glazed tower on a different plane at high level. The design seeks to fit with the surrounding skyline of the Canary Wharf business precinct, whilst also aiming to stand out with the colours and different shapes in its structure.
For the design of the foundations and piling, ground investigation revealed that, as with the adjacent ‘landmark’ development, the stiff Thanet Sands could be reached with CFA rigs, thus avoiding the need for large diameter piles and the need for drilling fluid or bentonite.
With such high column and pile loads, pile caps were arranged carefully to avoid existing piles and to also minimise cap depth.
The piled raft was carefully designed to facilitate construction in two pours and settlement studies were undertaken to establish likely absolute and differential settlements across the site. Soil/structure interaction studies were used to assess pile loads as well as raft reinforcement levels for a range of soil and stiffness parameters.
Whilst forming a key aspect of the architecture, the double and triple height feature ‘vee’ and ‘cruciform’ columns support 40 storeys and are expressed with varying cross sections and form. The columns were modelled in three dimensions and geometries developed with planar faces, avoiding warped surfaces that would be difficult to form.
With just four lifts and two stairs, the core is limited in its extent, and the challenge in designing the core for wind loads was to avoid the need for outrigger walls to mobilise the perimeter columns.
Various forms were considered and wind tunnel modelling by BMT Fluid Mechanics indicated that anticipated wind induced vibrations were within accepted comfort levels. The dynamic response of the building was improved by optimising the slab depth to 200mm, reducing the effective mass of the building.
Storey height transfer walls were integrated into an intermediate plant level as well as at level three.
Construction challenges of the project included the small confined site, existing pile obstructions, the retention of an existing contiguous piled wall, the provision of a loading bay and surface water attenuation tanks, as well as overcoming constraints imposed by an adjacent public footpath.
Designed as a separate entity from the hotel with its own distinct character, the stunning interior of the hotel’s Bokan Restaurant was created by Mystery Ltd, with Koncept ID being responsible for the implementation and delivery of the design.
Spread over the hotel’s top three floors, the Bokan includes the main 70-cover restaurant on the 37th floor, a bar on the 38th floor and a further bar and a terrace on the 39th floor, with dining facilities also on these levels.
Sarah Mannerings head of interior design at Mystery said: “Prior to working on this project we were appointed by Accor to work on a different scheme and they subsequently invited us to pitch for this scheme, which we won against 10 other design agencies.
“The client decided that they wanted the design to be inspired by the London Docklands but to be distinctive from remainder of the hotel, and we came up with a design based on this.”
“The biggest challenge for us was that when we started the project, the building was already designed, so we were limited by the existing shell space – some elements of which were quite challenging.
“Another challenge was that the ceiling heights were quite low in many places – so great thought was needed was create the right atmosphere. In addition the space was quite small to provide for the number of restaurant covers that were required – especially as one side of the main space was curved.
“Part of the brief was to create an environment that felt like a separate entity from the hotel – to make the restaurant feel like a brand in its own right.
“To achieve this it was important that we created a shopfront that strongly contrasted with the rest of the building, which comprises contemporary glazing.
“We wanted the restaurant shopfront to reflect some of the story and create intrigue, so we designed it to look like a piece of rusted corten steel reminiscent of the site’s previous dockland days.
“We also wanted to ensure that the interior had a superior standard of finish that one would not expect from a mid-market hotel restaurant.”
She added that the core value of the design was about sensual discovery, so it was important for the design concept to reflect this and to respond to each of the five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.
In terms of sight, the amazing views from the restaurant somewhat speak for themselves, however the designers also wanted to create sight lines between the restaurant’s three floors and control the way in which customers experience the views.
With this in mind, the original staircase connecting the floors was re-located into a central location directly in line with the lift lobby corridor. This meant that the view was deliberately obscured on exiting the lift and walking down a corridor, before being dramatically revealed on arrival in the main space – providing a real ‘wow’ factor.
The re-positioning of the staircase also provided views of the movement of customers on each of the other floors, which was geared to encouraging customers to ‘explore’ all three levels and appreciate the full extent of the space. Moving the stairs away from the glazed facade also maximised the number of seating covers which could be accommodated around the window.
Appealing to the sense of sound, moving the staircase also meant that more sound would be able to travel between the three floors, so that customers can hear a little of the hustle and bustle of movement, conversation and the sound of crockery clinking between the floors.
The interior designers also introduced a DJ platform on the top floor to create a focal point for sound within the space. This also provides s an area for public speaking on occasions where the whole floor is hired out for a specific event such as a corporate function, party or wedding.
The view is further maximised by ensuring that every seat in the restaurant and bar is positioned to take maximum advantage of the panorama. At any point where a customer might be facing away from the view, the designers have introduced an antique mirror to reflect the outside vista.
Sarah Mannerings continued: “Appealing to the sense of smell, we worked with Scentair to define a distinct perfume for the brand which is apparent on arrival at the ground floor entrance and across the 38th and 39th floors, as well as in the toilets.
“The 37th floor does not have this scent, as we didn’t want it to interfere with the theatre kitchen. The scent is woody, with a nice balance between masculine and feminine. It reflects the authenticity of the material palette.”
Appealing to the sense of touch, all of the materials used in the design were chosen for their authenticity, down to the smallest detail.
The restaurant concierge desk is formed from a real tree trunk, the cow hides used are all real and the designers have deliberately not used a consistent colour or finish for the hides in order to accentuate their authenticity.
Real cow hides have been used on the banquette backs and reclaimed timber lumbers form the seat bases. The timber is all reclaimed, and is rough by nature, with all the cracks, knots and marks deliberately shown off. These finishes are all geared to encouraging people to touch them and feel them.
Hopefully, the sensation of taste is self-evident through the extensive selection of superb food and drinks on offer.
All of the senses have been considered in a way that encourages the customer to discover new flavours – as well as more of the story of the docklands.
On the subject of the docklands, Sarah Mannerings said: “We have gone to great lengths to reflect the story and heritage of the docklands within the interior, but in a very subtle and non-themed way.
“You will find references to pulleys and cranes reflected everywhere – such as in the detailing over the ‘meet and greet’ desk on the 38th floor, the back cushion detailing on the banquettes, the design of the light fittings and within the ceiling-suspended sections of the staircase.
“We have also used verdigris finishes and colours on some of the key features to reflect the idea of water damaged/aged metals.
“The central framework to the stairs has a beautiful hand-finished verdigris on it and this colour is picked up again on some of the key furniture pieces such as the beautiful handmade sofa by British company Soane.
“Other small docklands references such as exposed bolt details are also included.”
Corten steel has also been used within the scheme, but has been variously aged so that some is very rusty – whereas the sheets (such those used around the 38th floor bar) are only slightly weathered. It was felt that this gave the finish a less ‘static’ quality and a sense of movement through time.
Sarah Mannerings added: “Each time we have reflected a very masculine, industrial detail we have done this in a very feminine, refined way to ensure that the scheme didn’t become too ‘heavy’ or inaccessible and also carries a level of sophistication.
“The stairs, for example, have a great deal of ‘masculine’ framework – but we have balanced this by keeping the framework light where possible, and inserting beautiful little brass details in between the robust mild steel to add a degree of refinement and beauty.
“The toilets are another perfect example – where we have used reclaimed and refinished oil drums and positioned these next to beautiful brass-framed doors. The doors themselves have an antique mirror front to reflect the views behind.
“Whilst we have used ’heavier’ ‘masculine’ colours of leather on many of the features, we have contrasted these with soft pinks and greens on other furniture pieces, to bring in a feminine touch and to balance the space.
“Industrial ‘necessities’ within the space have not been forgotten either and all of the A/C ductwork and cable trays have been sprayed with an antique bronze finish.
“As you move through the space, you should find that few details have been missed – we have even tried to ensure that even every screw is finished in a colour to match the scheme.”
“There has been some excellent feedback on the scheme – particularly regarding the interior design, with excellent reviews posted on TripAdvisor, for instance.
“As a relatively new, smaller company, this is a massive project for us and we really see it as a game-changer and a testament to the ambition and creativity which comes from our studio.
“We pride ourselves on thinking differently and we really did push the boundaries on this scheme and managed to impress Accor by being ambitious and thinking differently.”
Part of the AccorHotels Group, the four-star brand Novotel has 33 hotels in the UK and a chain including a total of 480 hotels and 93,147 rooms in 59 countries.
AccorHotels, is a French multinational hotel group, which operates in 95 countries.
Headquartered in Paris, France, the group owns, operates and franchises 3,700 hotels (spanning all inhabited continents) representing several brands, from budget and economy venues to five-star hotels.
ApplicArt specialise in the supply of Venetian polished plaster for use in the hospitality and leisure industry, as well as for high-end residential projects. The company has been in operation since 2014 and is owned by husband and wife team, Heather and Glenn Cooper.
Over the past three years, ApplicArt has been involved with various prestigious projects, from high-end spas and spa hotels, to restaurants, hotels, corporate receptions and shopping centres, including Brent Cross. Most recently, ApplicArt has been involved with Novotel Canary Wharf, supplying polished plaster to the ground floor pool, spa and changing areas, as well as to the 8th, 38th and 39th floors of the hotel.
Glenn Cooper, ApplicArt, said:
“This was our first major project with Novotel and our first project on Canary Wharf, so it was a significant scheme for us to be involved with. Due to the success of this project, Novotel have now taken our products to their Paris design centre, so their own design team can see what products we can offer on a global basis.”
“At ApplicArt we work alongside architects and designers to ensure the end user gets their desired results. We produce media boards to give clients an idea of what the final product will be and we offer a service which is second to none.”
Altertherm is an air conditioning and mechanical works specialist providing services throughout the construction and hospitality sector. The company has been in operation since 1997 and delivers a range of services including boiler installation, ventilation and the installation of CHP.
Over the past two decades, Altertherm has worked on a range of prestigious projects including various hotels, sporting arenas, schools and office schemes, as well as works for Ascot and Wembley Stadium. Most recently, Altertherm has been involved with Novotel Canary Wharf, providing a full mechanical package which included three plant rooms, CHP, boilers, dry coolers and air conditioning and ventilation for bedrooms and public areas.
Altertherm Managing Director, Stuart Curtis, said:
“It was great to partner with Accor on the Novotel Canary Wharf project. We’ve been involved with this scheme for four years in total – 18 months on site – so it has been a really important project for us. To date, it is the single biggest job we have delivered.”
“At Altertherm we pride ourselves on the quality of our work and our snag-free finishes – both of which we demonstrated on this project.”
L&G Signs Limited
L&G Signs Limited are sign planning consultants, specialise in the installation of corporate signage. The company has been in operation for 67 years and within this time has delivered work on a variety of schemes within the hospitality, motor and retail industry.
Most recently, L&G Signs Limited was involved in Novotel Canary Wharf. Working on this project, L&G Signs Limited was responsible for the installation of signage, both inside and out.
Peter Loman, L&G Signs Limited, said:
“We valued our involvement on this project – when you see it lit up, it’s a constant reminder for us of the creativity we can achieve.”
“At L&G Signs Limited, we pride ourselves on our ability to continually learn and develop, which ensures we improve our service with each passing year.”
Inside Out Contracts
Inside Out Contracts are commercial furniture specialists and have been supplying furniture to the hospitality industry since 1999. Based in London, Inside Out Contracts have a UK workshop as well as a diverse supplier network across Europe to provide a comprehensive and extensive range of product offerings to suit all design needs and budgets.
Some of Inside Out Contract’s recent clients include Accor Hotels, McDonalds UK, Curzon Cinemas, M Restaurants London, Harvey Nichols, Browns Brasseries, The Shard and the recent 2016 Rio Olympics. Working with long-time clients Mystery Design, Inside Out recently supplied varying contemporary furniture from Italy and Denmark, as well as over 200 bespoke cushions, to Bokan.
Justin Harrison, Inside Out Contracts, said:
“The designers at Mystery always produce the most outstanding end results and Bokan is no different. Located just across the Thames River from our Greenwich showroom and within view from our office, Bokan is close to home making this project of special importance to us.”
“As like-minded design enthusiasts, we pride ourselves on diversity and quality of work which this project personally sums up. The amount of detail from the varying chair styles to the aged effect leathers showcases the breadth of our service and expertise to meet any brief.”