The future of hotel design may be more practical than luxurious, according to the jurors behind this year's annual Radical Innovation Award, for the best in progressive, hospitality-minded design.
Neither shortlisted entries -- Zoku
(pictured above) and Snoozebox
-- offer guests the usual free chocolates or sheets with a four-digit thread count. Instead, both focus on what the award panel have called the "sensible, sociable and 24/7 connected traveler."
John Hardy, the founder of the Radical Innovation Award
says the panel of industry leaders are always debating what is "radical and feasible" when judging entries.
"A few years ago we added the provision that it had to be implemented within three to five years. Entries were getting a little crazy and we decided if we were really going to make a positive impact on the industry, we really needed to make a deal happen."
The Snoozebox Event Hotel
The Snoozebox Event Hotel, is unlike most hotels, in that it travels to you. The hotel is driven to guests on the back of a truck, and can be disassembled -- with expandable sides, walkways, and roof covers. It comes with integrated hot water and waste disposal treatment facilities, Wi-Fi, electric, and fire alarms services. A hotel of 100 rooms can be built in 24 hours.
The new design, which is in production and will be seen in 2016, is an enhanced version of the original Snoozebox portable hotel, which was based on shipping containers and used at events such as the London 2012 Olympics and The British Grand Prix.
Ian O'Doherty, Snoozebox's head of marketing and communications, says the concept to develop portable accommodation arose from the lack of hotel accommodation found at motorsports events.
"Our target consumer is quite broad. They could be an Aston Martin owner who wants to be close to the action at the Grand Prix, to a music fan who has saved up to attend a big music festival like Glastonbury. We are focused on providing our guests with premium hotel accommodation close to the action."
The Zoku Loft
The other finalist, Zoku, was developed in the Netherlands. Zoku theatrically markets itself as the "end of the hotel room" and the "beginning of the infinite room." What this means in practice, is an array of neat design features such as pullout stairs, drawers and sliding doors that help convert the room into a variety of multipurpose spaces, depending on the needs of the guest. The first Zoku will open in Amsterdam this autumn.
Hans Meyer, the managing director and co-founder at Zoku says the idea is targeted at millennials who need a temporary residence between five days to several months, for work. "When traditional hotels think of extended stays, they only think this means double the size, and with a microwave. They're missing out on the social aspect."
"In our research, we found that what young people like about a hostel, for example, is that they jump out of their bunk beds, go down to have a coffee, and chat for two hours with new people."
With that in mind, the Zoku concept forgoes the bed as the typical hotel room's centerpiece, in favor of gymnastic rings, customizable art hangings, and a large desk area and living room to accommodate guests and colleagues.
Radical Innovation Winner
50 contestants from 18 countries participated in this year's competition. Each entry was judged on concept, design, creativity, and potential impact on the hotel industry by a panel of industry leaders.
Hardy says many entries (seen in the gallery below) highlight current trends seen in hospitality design. "A lot of focus in hotel design right now is making guest rooms and public areas flexible, social, connected and attractive to millennials. "The winner will be decided by an invite-only audience of investors, designers, brands, and operators on September 30 at the New Museum in New York.
Update: Zoku was announced the winning concept of this year's Radical Innovation Award and received $10,000 to further develop their idea in the marketplace.