Hospitality Architecture: An Example of a Holistic Design Approach

By Bob Atwal and Mattia Gambardella

Our goal was to create a unique hotel design concept in an area close to the main airport in Muscat. The design brief comprised three main components: hotel, service apartments, and offices. We adopted a design approach that would result in an integrated scheme, where there is one holistic, seamless solution to provide an elegant, contemporary yet timeless aesthetic, while aspiring to longevity in architecture, style, and function. In other words, we wanted to offer a sleek alternative to the otherwise banal or trendy accommodations in this category of hospitality.

The proposed design accentuates dynamic movement through the structure’s terraces. These terraces will provide much-needed shading canopies and views of planes landing and taking off with the Gulf of Oman in the distance.

Internally, our design concept creates a contemplative space with a “tour de force” presence through a glazed roof that bathes a central atrium in stunning natural top light, while a dramatic and expansive central water feature presents the illusion of floating islands for functional activities such as reception and seating. This space will be visitors’ first project experience as the main arrival point and check-in space for the hotel, and it will serve as the key activity focus, with a restaurant, cafes, and access to circulation cores for the hotel floors, banqueting, leisure areas, and car parking. We believed it to be exceedingly important to offer business travelers and tourists a memorable experience that would inspire them to return or to tell their friends and colleagues about, no matter their length of stay. To achieve this impact, we are presenting a wholly unexpected feel, while staying within the normal constraints of this type and level of project, by creatively combining design elements, such as natural light, orientation, space, and volume, to realize an extraordinary end solution.

The design maximizes project-wide efficiency for the various components, fully considering requirements such independent entrances and dedicated parking and servicing. The design enables each component to be served by independent cores for circulation, in compliance with local code requirements.

Holistically, the design approach is to achieve more with less. Every part of this architecture performs an important functional role, with no superfluous decoration. Integrated into this streamlined thinking is the language of essential elements, such as the large canopy overhangs that act as shading devices. The main leisure area, including an outdoor swimming pool, is ideally located, at roof level, with landscaped areas and open views of the airport and the ocean.

About the Authors

Bob Atwal is Parsons’ director of architecture, based in our Urban Design Studio in Dubai. He is an architect with vast international experience spanning more than 30 years and has led a variety of iconic landmark projects across the globe. Before joining Parsons, Bob worked with several renowned architecture firms, including extensive periods with Foster+Partners, Richard Rogers Partnership, and John Macaslan & Partners.

Mattia Gambardella, Parsons’ creative director, is based on our Urban Design Studio in Dubai. He is an architect who has divided his career between design, research, and teaching in Europe and South Africa. Mattia’s award-winning work on generative design and responsive architecture has been presented in Canada, Barcelona, and Taiwan, and he is a leader in parametric design and digital techniques in delivering design solutions at all scales. Mattia joined Parsons from Zaha Hadid Architects, in London.


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