Expert’s Voice: Environmentally friendly architecture – the future of hotel design

by | Apr 5, 2019 | Experts

Lillie Square – contemporary development and glazed tower meets Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH) level 4. All images courtesy of PDP London.

Writing exclusively for TOPHOTELNEWS, Marion Baeli from PDP London says today’s climate change emergency places a duty on architects and developers to minimise the environmental impact of design proposals #expertvoice #hotelsustainability

Comfort and wellbeing are the current buzzwords of the construction industry and paramount to the success of any development – particularly in hospitality. However, the current way we use and operate buildings by burning gas to achieve comfort is going through a complete re-think, as buildings have to achieve drastic carbon emissions targets. The climate change emergency, now more than ever, places a duty on architects and developers to minimise the environmental impact of design proposals.

PDP London has long been at the forefront of sustainable design and places sustainability principles at the very heart of project development right from the outset, proving that through early consideration, it is possible to deliver responsible, world-class architecture while also preserving our heritage and meeting the clients’ aspirations.

Forward-thinking and armed with a robust understanding of architectural heritage, the practice has been shaping the built environment, both in London’s historic areas and further afield, for over two decades, designing enjoyable and responsible places in which to live, work and play.

PDP London’s “100 Princedale Road” project was the first UK-certified Passivhaus retrofit of a Victorian property, achieving 80% carbon emission reductions through innovative detailing and effective execution. I analyse and present, with a wealth of post occupancy data, this and other projects from the ‘Retrofit for the Future’ programme, in my book “Residential Retrofit: 20 Case Studies” — published by RIBA in 2013.

More recently, the practice has secured a 750-hectare, $900 million masterplan project at Punta Colorada in western Cuba, to create an exceptional new golf destination at the heart of a luxurious tropical resort. This project represents a collaboration with an expert team of international consultants, and sustainability strategies have informed all major design decisions, ranging from resilient water and waste management solutions, food production and energy generation, to wellness and bioclimatic architecture principles — all important factors for any hotel operator looking for environmental certification.

Meanwhile in London, work has started on “Cambridge House Hotel and residences” on the site of the former In & Out Club in Piccadilly. The project will deliver a BREEAM “Very Good” 18,000 sqm five-star hotel with seven serviced residences. Proximity to tourist attractions and clever conservation, adaptation and reuse of the existing fabric aim to make the project durable. With around a third of the proposal comprising new build construction, PDP London is carefully balancing the needs of the client with modern building performance standards and historic constraints, to bring new life to the Grade I listed iconic centrepiece.

My practice’s Green Group runs peer reviews to ensure that sustainability remains high up on the agenda. The practice employs two Certified Passivhaus Designers and nine accredited Retrofit Coordinators, whose specialist skills are relied upon at various stages of project development. In addition to considering orientation and building form, their approach relies heavily on the “fabric first” principle, which means that designs achieve high thermal and airtight performance whilst providing excellent indoor air quality. Durability is enhanced through reduced thermal bridging, which lowers the risks of interstitial condensation in the construction.

Laura Chico Arias, our Business Development Director, adds: ”We have taken a step forward by listening to the growing demand for sustainability and climate-responsible developments. The environmental benefits have driven this inspiration, from substantial waste and emissions reduction to water conservation. We are committed to keeping up with our duty to create outstandingly responsible architectural designs”.

With an increased public awareness of the human causes of climate change, we all have a duty to live more sustainably to ensure the future of our planet. Our buildings are responsible for a massive 40% of global carbon emissions, so architecture – and with it, the hotel industry – is an essential arena for sustainable innovation. Now, more than ever, we have a responsibility to commission, design and deliver environmentally responsible buildings.



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― About the Author ―

Marion Baeli
Marion Baeli

Partner at PDP London

Marion joined PDP London in 2004 and was made a Partner in 2015. She has led many projects during her career at PDP; mostly sensitive residential developments in central London’s conservation areas. She is currently leading a major £120m new build residential scheme whilst always looking to drive for a more responsible way to build.

Her passion for sustainability and low energy design led Marion to take part in and win a contract as part of a Government competition, Retrofit for the Future, which led to the delivery of the practice’s award winning 100 Princedale Road project, the first certified PassivHaus retrofit in the UK.



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