Exit Parliament: The Hotel as a Political Institution

Leonhard Clemens:

Hotels are essential to today’s politics as spaces of negotiation, socialisation and trade. They complement official political institutions by providing necessary forms of in-official representation that identifies with and desires a domestic imagery and setting. While the modern American hotel emerged at the beginning of the 19th century as an alternative sociable space to official political institutions and the private home, its progressive standardisation and evolution as a building type, its separation of private bedroom from public services, led to an erosion of coherent domestic settings, which it had originally appropriated and allowed for different and customised protocols of hospitality to develop.

01 Leo An innkeeper on a political mission: Conrad Hilton and a model of the Hilton Istanbul. Source: http://upgrd.com

The central ambition of this research is the reappraisal of the modern hotel through its use of domesticity, and as a political project and political institution in its own right. Thus, domesticity is understood as a socio-spatial condition through which particular subjectivities and formal protocols of hospitality can be shaped. In this case, a constituency of politicians, advisors and board members, in short, the wider constituency associated with the workings of today’s political administration.  

02 LeoModern governmental work: Briefing and speech writing in hotel room. Source: http://whitehouse.gov
03 LeoLobby in the Palace of Westminster and generic hotel lobby.

From the internal re-organisation of the hotel-apartment into a sequence of domestic ante-rooms, the three design proposals develop a typological reasoning that questions the traditional understanding of the lobby as an exclusive public space and the notion of the hotel room as a quintessential private condition. In doing so, each design proposes a typological transformation and strategy that, specific to its urban context, creates a corridor, atrium or arcade. But the political relevance of each design should not be solely read in direct relation to an urban and socio-economic context, and is part of a larger strategic exploitation of the hotel as a host for a political class. Each design encapsulates the managerial structures of a modern hotel chain, the repetition of its singular elements: allowing the hotel to perform as a persistent structure across different cities and nations, and installing a system of protocols and forms that constitute its essence as a functional political institution. In this sense, the three proposed designs amount to the starting point of what could be an international hotel chain. Each design becomes political by reformulating protocols of hospitality through its domestic layout.

04 LeoTypological problem of separation: While the flexible base of the hotel consumes all programmes, the top remains static.
05 LeoAdaption of domestic styles: Furniture layout in American home (1950) and Hilton Istanbul (1955)- new protocols of socialisation.
07 LeoTypological transformation of the hotel.
08 LeoBlenheim Palace Oxfordshire: Sequence of ante-rooms encapsulating formal domestic protocols of hospitality.
09 Leo  The home as political space: Salon de Madame Geoffrin, Paris.
10 LeoAnte-room concept image: Corridor | Ante-room | Bed room
Transformation of hotel rooms into sequence of ante-rooms.
13 LeoDesign proposals: Berlin (Frame), Paris (Limit), Brussels (Infill)
12 LeoTypical floor plan, exemplary hotel room and protocol of use for proposals in Berlin, Paris and Brussels.
01_Berlin_ISODesign Berlin: axonometric showing ground floor level and hotel level (corridor)
03_Paris_ISODesign Paris: axonometric showing ground floor level and hotel level (Atrium)
02_Brussels_ISODesign Brussels: axonometric showing ground floor level (arcade), hotel level and office level.
17 LeoHotel Berlin, open space. A cultural arena under the roof of the hotel.
18 LeoHotel Berlin: Section through restaurant and corridor. 
19 LeoThe hotel room as a work space for political negotiations, briefings and meetings. View from bed room into conference room.

Read the whole dissertation here.

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