Small rooms with a lot of luxury: that’s the formula behind Citizen M. 'If you’re in town for a short stay, then you certainly don’t want a big luxury room with all the extras', argues Jeroen Vester of Amsterdam design firm Concrete, ‘but the alternative, a seedy joint down some backstreet doesn’t exactly appeal.’ Dissatisfaction with available hotels prompted Concrete to come up with an alternative: a compact room with lots of comfort and luxury but at an affordable price.
This idea is illustrated by the newly opened hotel chain Citizen M (the ‘M’ stands for the mobile traveller). The hotel rooms contain everything the modern global citizen could want: a good bed, a big TV (at no extra cost), all desirable data connections, Wi-Fi, and the look of luxury. A ‘mood pad’ allows occupants to alter the room according to their taste: light, sound and TV. Hotel guests can save the settings and open them again in the next hotel. If you want more, a drink for example, then it’s down to the ground level and one of the high-standard living rooms fitted out by Vitra. There’s no restaurant in the hotel, for no-one eats in a hotel. Instead, there’s a good take-away with fresh produce.
The key to the success is a modular composition of hotel rooms. All amenities are crammed into a space just fourteen square metres in area. A big bed one by two metres, a shower and a toilet. There’s even room for a chair and two floor lamps. All that would not be possible with a customary room layout, but Concrete discovered a clever way of using round glazed cells for the toilet and shower. You walk through the bathroom, as it were, to get to the bedroom. All hotel rooms were made in the new factory of Modcon in Moerdijk. Fabricating and finishing the rooms entirely in the factory results in a quality comparable with that achieved in yacht construction. Absolutely everything is fitted beforehand, even the LCD television and the floor lamps. Only when the rooms have been made are they transported to the site. There they are stacked on top of one another above a traditional ground floor. The first hotel at Schiphol boasts five floors of hotel rooms. A maximum of nine floors can in principle be achieved.
In the construction world modular building is often associated with temporary building or cheap-looking building. Citizen M is not intended to be a temporary building and it’s not all that cheap either. What’s important here is the speed, repetition and quality. The experience gained at Schiphol will be taken on board in the construction of the next hotels in Amsterdam-Zuid and Glasgow. London and Berlin are next on the list. All modules will be assembled in Moerdijk and then transported fully fitted to locations around Europe.
Concrete has largely finished its work. The office is involved in sourcing locations for new hotels and designing the façades. For although the hotel rooms remain the same throughout Europe, the façades are always adapted to local conditions.