How do you design airborne dreams?

The extra beds are like from an ocean liner and you won’t be able to leave your belongings behind in the rooms – welcome to Scandic Helsinki Aviacongress Hotel that offers accommodation for flight passengers!

What kind of a hotel would be ideal at an airport? What kind of solutions would be important for the customer? This was the challenge the management set the interior architects a couple of years ago.

Fyra’s interior architects began to draw up a new kind of a hotel concept by finding answers for questions like:

What if someone just wants to rest before a connecting flight?

What if sports teams need accommodation?

What if someone arrives in the middle of the night or has to check out in the middle of the night?

How can the same room be suitable for both families as well as business travellers?

Fyra came up with the answers and used them to create the interior solutions. They developed a winning formula and were awarded the contract.

“We wanted to put emphasis on genuinely bringing added value to people”, says Emma Keränen, Interior Architect at Fyra.

“When you come up with a concept that’s solid from the get-go, it carries across the project. There is no need to keep solving small matters again and again as the solutions have been thought through in advance.”

Do you need a bed or four?

The hotel project was completed in summer 2017. It is filled with innovations that set it apart from the average hotels – and serve flight passengers. It features types of rooms never seen before.

Imagine this: a family of three arrive at the hotel. If it was an average hotel, they would be drawing straws to see who gets the rickety extra bed. The bed would be uncomfortable and it would fill the floor space.

This is not the case with Scandic Helsinki Aviacongress Hotel. The extra beds have been integrated as a part of the built-in wall furniture – just like in the ocean liners from the olden days!

“We call them bunks”, Fyra´s Emma Keränen says.

The bunks are just as comfortable as the normal hotel room beds. They are easy to pull out and easy to put away. If you don’t need the bunk, the room looks just like any other room for two.

One room for the entire team

The client loved the new room concept.

“The same room can be adapted to suit different customer groups accommodating everyone’s needs equally”, says Mikaela Pomrén, Head of Hotel Development.

Fyra´s interior architects designed also special team rooms that can be connected and you can move between one to another. For example, if a junior ice hockey team is staying at the hotel, the players don’t have to go up and down the corridors to visit each other’s rooms.

The last room at the end of the connecting rooms consists of bunks only. This ensures that the space can be emptied simply by putting away the bunks if you want to make room for, say, a strategy meeting.

One of the most innovative details of the concept were sleeping pods which were planned to be a part of the hotel. The idea was that you can easily purchase a couple of hours of nap time if you don’t need an actual room. The pods were on display at the Design Museum’s exhibition Enter and Encounter. They did not make the final hotel plans.

“Perhaps sometimes in the future”, says Mikaela Pomrén.

No more belongings left behind

Most of the visitors at the Scandic Helsinki Aviacongress Hotel spend there only a night or two. Few come for longer stays. This has been taken into consideration in the interior. There are several little innovations that make the stay easier and more comfortable.

The hotel signage consists mostly of easily decipherable pictograms. Each floor has a small kitchen with a microwave oven and a faucet with boiling hot water if you want a cup of tea.

The luggage storage is tucked away, hidden behind a curtain and each bag is secured with a chain and lock. You can easily retrieve your luggage even in the middle of the night.

“What an ingenious idea. An idea that will hopefully be introduced to our other hotels, too”, says Mikaela Pomrén.

In addition to the bunk-like extra beds, the rooms feature also other bold solutions. The built-in bed structure is balanced by a wide open interior on the other side of the room: there are no cupboards with doors. Instead there is a beautiful open shelf unit made from wooden strips.

“The idea takes into consideration that people often stay here for a short period of time. Most stay for the night so it’s easy to see what you have unpacked on the shelves and you can easily pack your things when you leave”, says Fyra’s Keränen.

Welcome to Finland

“All things Finnish and Scandinavian were key inspirations behind our interior design”, Fyra’s Emma Keränen says.

Those key ideas are present in choice of materials and furniture as well as in the giant media wall in the lobby. The screen shows clips of the Finnish nature. The wood theme is introduced when entering the hotel: for example, the reception desk resembles a large traditional Finnish wooden dining table. Instead of being behind a counter, the receptionist is right there sitting at the table with the hotel guests.

“We wanted to create a relaxed, balanced service encounter”, Keränen says.

Mikaela Pomrén is happy with the solution.

“The table has affected the working culture of our personnel. They do not wait for the customer to come to them if there are any questions. Now the staff can approach the customers and take the initiative to ask if there’s anything they can do to help.”

The renewed hotel concept has been received very well by both the personnel and the clients.

“Many enter the lobby and say, wow!” Mikaela Pomrén says. “That’s how I always know we have succeeded.”

Photographer: Sampsa Pärnänen

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