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Old-school Japanese capsule hotel gets a new lease of life

by | Jan 30, 2018 | Design

Designers created a futuristic urban enclave in an old capsule hotel in Tokyo. They kept old features and paired them with new additions

An old capsule hotel in Tokyo has been refurbished in a slick way that integrates old and new. The designers kept some of the old features and paired them with new additions to create a futuristic urban enclave.

Retro style with a modern twist

Nine Hours (9h), a hotel brand in Japan that operates a number of capsule hotels, were in possession of an old pod hotel whose common areas were run down. They commissioned designers Schemata Architects/Jo Nagasaka to refit the existing building and bring it into the modern era.

The designers decided to take a different approach, and rather than gutting the building and creating a completely new interior, elected to retain the capsules on site. The capsules were designed in a manner typical of the era they were built, consisting of a beige plastic pod with chrome fixtures and opaque windows on the doors.

To retain the retro feel of the hotel, Schemata took their cues from the existing colour palette of the hotel and created new additions in plywood, a dark screed floor and FRP plastic. This material palette added a new dimension to the hotel, while at the same time fitting in with the brand image of Nine Hours.

The architects said, “Our design aims to eradicate the image of the old capsule hotel by changing the interior and surroundings while keeping the existing capsules as they are. The colour of the existing capsules – an old-fashioned beige reminiscent of the retro design period – was rather difficult to handle, but we intentionally used it as a base colour for the interior to eradicate the impression of the existing capsules.”

Capsule hotel meets Finnish sauna

One of the central concepts in the redesign of the Nine Hours hotel was to incorporate saunas into the brief. In Japan, capsule hotels are often associated with saunas because of an historic connection that these types of hotels had to these European spa facilities.

However, the existing building did not have any saunas present, so Schemata included them in the design to fulfill the potential of the perceived capsule hotel of a bygone era. “In Japan, people often stereotypically associate capsule hotels with saunas due to the conventional style of capsule hotels in the past,” the design team said. “The existing building was actually not equipped with saunas, but we intentionally recreated the stereotypical image by adding saunas there, while eradicating the conventional impression, to establish a powerful combination of capsules and saunas representing the identity of ℃ (the name of the hotel).”

Guests can rent capsules at ℃ by the hour and avail of the sauna facilities, and they are also allowed to check in round the clock, making the hotel very flexible for people with busy schedules or anyone looking to take a quick nap and refresh.

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