Cherry on top: Borja Ferrater scoops Creative Spark design award in Barcelona

by | Jul 1, 2019 | Design, Events

(From L to R): PDP London’s Laura Chico Arias; El Equipo Creativo’s Natali Canas del Pozo; Wilson Associates’ Monika Moser; OAB’s Lucia Ferrater; TOPHOTELPROJECTS CEO Rolf W. Schmidt. Photo by Jule Grass.

Ferrater’s nuanced urban transformation of Barcelona EDITION given top honours by hospitality delegates at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Barcelona

It met Ian Schrager’s famously high standards. And it certainly wowed top-level hospitality delegates at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Barcelona. 

Borja Ferrater, Partner & Owner of the Office of Architecture in Barcelona (OAB), won the Creative Spark design competition for the recently opened Barcelona EDITION project.

The urban transformation project in the heart of the city center narrowly edged out the two other competition finalists: Kimpton Hotel Barcelona by Natali Canas del Pozo, Co-Founder, Partner and Creative Director of El Equipo Creativo; and Hotel Le Scribe by Monika Moser, Managing Director Europe of Wilson Associates.


Speaking to TOPHOTELNEWS about the victory, Ferrater said: “This award is a recognition of not only who you see on camera but also of an amazing team of many people from different disciplines. This award is special because it recognises the thousands of hours of people working extremely hard, trying to make the end result a great experience for the guest.”

“It recognises the sweat and hard work spanning 3 to 4 years since this project started. Indeed Creative Spark is the cherry on top,” he added.


Located opposite the old medieval market square in the Santa Caterina neighborhood, the project consolidates the urban transformation of Ciutat Vella, which has led to the modernization of the historic center of Barcelona, while meeting the requirements of the operator of the new Barcelona Edition hotel, Ian Schrager, creator in the 1970s of New York’s iconic Studio 54.

The new project entailed a change of use for the existing office building, along with complete rehabilitation of the spaces inside, by building a new skin that results from the tension between the new typology and the urban spaces surrounding the building. 

Pictures by Joan Guillamat


The singularity of the building is recognized through the elimination of the corner in the preexisting building and the creation of a chamfer. The building interacts with the piazza and acquires its public image, at the same time as it recognizes the presence of the market from the entrance to Calle Freixures.

The bow windows in the form of diamond points correspond to the sitting areas of the bedrooms on Francesc Cambó, which are directed along the extended sight lines in the piazza towards the Cathedral, thus preparing the geometric conditions for the construction of the chamfer.  

The black ceramic skin with large-format panels constructs the vented, sustainable (Leed Gold) facade with open joints that accentuate a segmentation which calibrates the different apertures on each facade.  

A huge oculus in the suites of floor 8 and 9 looks out over the roofing of the market, in a search, once again, interacting with the neighboring public space, thus recognizing the aptitude of the collective architectural project when it comes to constructing the city.

On the sidelines of TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Barcelona, Ferrater in an exclusive interview with TOPHOTELNEWS shares his thoughts on winning Creative Spark, why EDITION Barcelona needed to work like a Swiss watch and the experience of collaborating with Ian Schrager.


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Well, we’re very surprised and happy. I have to congratulate the other projects. They are all very, very good. This award is the recognition, not only of who you see in camera right now, but of an amazing team of people, of many people, of many different disciplines, from suppliers to the operator to the interior designers. So I think this award for me is very special because it recognizes thousands of thousands of hours of effort of people working extremely hard, trying to produce for users, for guests, for clients, a great experience. This award is now the cherry on the top. 


When I think of the EDITION Barcelona, I would say that the biggest challenge was to do a hotel of 100 rooms with only 7,000 sqm in which every square centimeter counts. So teamwork was essential in making, what we say is, almost like a Swiss watch — in which absolutely everything counts and you have to organize very good circulation of logistics. 

You have the element of what I call “the sandwich” in which you have the top part, you have a skybar, then you have the restaurant on the ground floor, and the cabaret in the underground. So all of this has to work as a perfect machine without losing any luxury experience, comfort, and all the elements that the EDITION brand stands for. 


One of the most important things about it is the relationship between the inside and the outside. It’s like a little magic box. Once you enter you start discovering spaces and you start discovering areas and zones that are specialized. 

The building was very complex. We had to use the existing structure and then it was an office building. To turn an office building into a luxury top hotel five stars and beyond was extremely hard. So we had to maximize the space. As you know, operators nowadays have a lot of requirements in regards to back of house, etc, so we had to be almost magicians to find every little gap or space to give it to the users, to the guests, to the restoration. 

I think here, the key elements were smart use of the underground connecting the underground with the grounds. In Barcelona, we have a mezzanine level which is this intermediate level between ground floor and upper levels. 

There is this gradient of experiences and then you have the sky bar. I think it’s been extremely successful. It’s always full, it’s hard to get in now, but it gives this atmosphere of Barcelona, of the rooftops of Barcelona, of being in the gothic neighborhoods in the medieval town and have all of these experiences connected to the city. 


It’s amazing to be working with somebody who has so much standard and so much vision. Especially somebody who I consider the inventor of the boutique hotel. 

He was very much involved. We visited him in New York. Then he was in constant touch and doing site visits via conference calls and Facetime. Nowadays, technology allows that. So, I have the feeling that he has always been there. He has a great team of people coming from New York.

This project is, I would say, all about the team, about the developer, the owners, KKH, together with EDITION team. Ian was always there. It’s such a complex project so I think that the key is that the leaders, the conceptual leaders, both architects and operator together with the owner, together with the interior designer, we made a team of understanding each other’s needs. Combining all of this together has created exponential results. 


This is my first time and I am very happy. I found it extremely interesting. Networking nowadays is essential and I think the event format was perfect. It’s perfect because it has a little bit of Germanic organization, I think it has to have, because we have limited time but we have to make the most of it. Everyone here is busy. To have the opportunity to spend an intense and profitable time is essential for our work and business.


Borja is a licensed architect from the International University of Catalonia (UIC), 2005. He obtained his doctorate in April 2017. Between 2008 and 2011 Borja was Vice-Dean of Culture Publications and International Relations at the School of Architecture of UIC. 

He was Visiting Assistant Professor in 2011 in Pratt Institute, New York. Borja was invited within the Richard W. Trott Distinguished Visiting Professor” program at Ohio State University in 2017. Founding Partner Architect of OAB (Office of Architecture in Barcelona) together with Xavier Marti, Carlos & Lucia Ferrater in January 2006. He has received several awards for his designs as well as given lectures, participated in round tables and jury of prizes in more than 20 countries around the world.

Among other buildings, Borja has a wide experience in luxury hotels such as the Kaplankaya Club House, and the Six Senses 5-star Hotel and Spa resort in Bodrum, Turkey. He is currently  working on two luxury hotels: a luxury boutique hotel of 100 rooms in Cultural Village, Dubai, UAE. And the 5-star hotel of 70 rooms in Ibiza, Spain currently under construction.

Creative Spark is a hotel design competition between three architects/interior designers, which is judged by delegates at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR conferences. Shortlisted finalists present their innovative projects, and further discuss their work as part of a stimulating panel discussion. For information on how to enter Creative Spark, get in touch with TOPHOTELPROJECTS Head of Global Events & Conferences Kayley van der Velde


About the Event

The TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR is a series of one-day conferences around the world for leaders within the hospitality industry. We believe that knowing people is the key to become a successful player within the global hospitality industry.


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