We’re assured that there’s no truth at all to the rumor that Saffire Freycinet is a sort of giant robot stingray, defending Coles Bay from all manner of sea monsters and Godzilla-like mutants. Whatever its real purpose may be, in its role as an ultra-luxe eco-villa hideaway, it’s absolutely convincing.
Though cleverly built from native wood, it’s clear from a glance at Tierra Patagonia that this thing is just waiting for a signal from its extraterrestrial creators, instructing it to take to the skies. Chances are, of course, that it’ll stay firmly rooted to earth for the duration of your stay….
The (possibly fictional) American architect Frank Gehry provides a convenient cover story for a number of inscrutable architectural forms all around the world. What exactly the Marques de Riscal’s titanium structure is for, we may never know, but at the moment it happens to house a first-class winery, spa and luxury hotel.
No one’s about to mistake Dubai for some stultified architectural backwater, true, but every so often we like to call attention to the frenzy for our own amusement. Raffles’s entry is relatively tame, all things considered: a massive, glass-tipped pyramid. Bizarre as it appears, this is no Vegas gimmick; for one thing, the structure affords panoramic views from every room, and for another, the service standards are unfailingly excellent and discreet.
The honeycomb-like outer structure of the Andaz Xintiandi looks like an artifact from some undiscovered future architecture — meanwhile the interiors offer a warm and only slightly uncanny vibe, like something from the near-future Los Angeles of Spike Jonze’s artificial-intelligence romance Her.
Park Hyatt may sound like a safe bet, architecturally, but risk and thrill are not antonymous with the brand. Case in point: their Busan outpost, which derives its dramatic skyscraper-topping curves from the inspiration of a ship’s billowing sail. Or, to fit the theme more appropriately, a starship’s engine housing. However you perceive it, interiors are fittingly sleek and futuristic, with minimalist and expansive rooms designed to accommodate even the most advanced brainstorming.
Though it was allegedly produced by the Brazilian master architect Ruy Ohtake, there’s no direct proof that Hotel Unique isn’t a sort of intergalactic Noah’s Ark, sent to Earth to study the beautiful people of São Paulo in their naturally glamorous habitat.
Another building that’s clearly not meant to be immobile, the Kameha Grand seems built for speed — all the more suspicious in the fairly sedate city of Bonn. On the surface it’s simply a world-class business hotel, but we’re willing to bet there’s more to its geothermal power plant than meets the eye (and we suspect designer Marcel Wanders is not of this earth, either).
The main feature is predictable enough: Mayfair’s answer to Roaring Twenties, Deco-clad New York. It’s Antony Gormley’s sculpture-cum-suite that boggles the mind, a Minecraft-ified humanoid figure in which they’ve sequestered an oak-clad bedchamber called ROOM. You’ve got to hand it to them for seeing the concept through, even if it reads as a dystopian commentary on man’s imprisonment or some sort of distant-future stasis suit. We say: the weirder the vision, the better.
The idea that a building of this caliber was originally intended simply as housing for workers at the nearby geothermal plant is simply ridiculous, which is why the cover story was quickly changed — we’re now meant to believe this is nothing more than a plush, stylish, and architecturally adventurous luxury hotel, poised right at the seam between two great tectonic plates….