Transversality to design healthy spaces in Interihotel 2021

On 25 November, Grup Idea was present at a new edition of Interihotel, the leading event in southern Europe in hotel interior design. For three days, in addition to the showroom of products and design materials, an extensive programme of conferences, workshops, open talks and round tables was organised. In total, more than 3,300 professionals from the contract-hospitality sector attended Interihotel.

Miquel Àngel Julià Hierro, partner and director of strategy and design at Grup Idea, took part in the round table discussion “We care about social purpose”, which addressed issues related to the social responsibility of hotels within the framework of the city and the context in which they are located. Miquel Àngel talked about how the law of supply and demand has been inverted and how it is now the consumer/citizen who demands flexible and hybrid spaces, fleeing from the classic categorisation of spaces according to watertight typologies. Coworkings and colivings are a clear example of how new spatial stereotypes can emerge.

Under the theme “We care about well being”, Miquel Àngel Julià Hierro coordinated a second round table entitled “Transversality to design healthy spaces”. This second session addressed issues such as the integration of facility management in design, the need to understand the retail perspective in order to achieve a change in the hotel industry, environmental sustainability and the implications of good architecture for health. 


Architecture, design and social responsibility in hotels


The session “We care about social purpose”, moderated by journalist Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, was attended by Miquel Àngel, Izaskun Chinchilla, Alberto Suárez, Regional Director Technical Services EMEA at Six Senses Hotels, Sandra Bestraten, President of the Barcelona COAC and José Díaz Montañés, CEO of Artiem. The aim of the session was to share reflections on how to take accessibility, shared responsibility and care for biodiversity beyond existing regulations.

Sandra Berastraten, president of the Barcelona COAC, praised those hotels that “pursue accessibility beyond regulations and strive for excellence”. One example could be to make ground floors more inclusive spaces, more interactive with the street and the city. Izaskun Chinchilla also shared the idea of “ensuring that the benefits generated locally in hotels are distributed and contribute to creating new social wealth”.

In this sense, all strategies that take social responsibility into account are no longer unidirectional. For Alberto Suárez, “the positive impact also ends up being for the promoter of these strategies”. On an environmental level, for example, maintaining biodiversity ends up generating unique destinations that please visitors, making it easier for them to connect with the place and the local people. “More and more hotels are taking this path, which also generates greater adaptability to new contexts. The benefit is mutual.

This change of strategy necessarily involves changing the prism at the time of design. For Miquel Angel Julià Hierro, who is also spokesman for the COAC retail working group, the key is to put “the end customer at the centre of the project, who will be the one to make use of the space”. Thus, it is necessary to listen to the user who demands hybrid and flexible spaces. “Hybridisation with other sectors such as retail is essential in order to offer more services and not just a single use for hotel spaces”.

For Miquel Àngel, taking the user’s or client’s perspective leads to thinking beyond the physical reality. “We must also take into account the digital reality and break with these two universes when designing”, he adds.


Architecture and the design of healthy spaces


The second session entitled “Transversality to design healthy spaces” was attended by Felip Neri Gordi, architect and Facility Manager, co-director of the postgraduate course in facility management at the Escola SERT; María Callís, specialist in Strategy and Retail Design and president of the Retail Design Institute Spain; Ivan Capdevila, environmental and energy consultant and director of Estudi Ramon Folch; and Sonia Hernández, architect at Arquitectura Sana.

This new conference recalled the themes of disciplinary and sectorial transversality worked on in the previous session “Sectorial transversality”. facility management, under the concept of the “Spiral of Innovation” by Miquel Àngel Julià Hierro, is a discipline that seeks to integrate all the specialists who will intervene in the work at the beginning of the process and facilitates efficient management of the building in the future. For Felip Neri Gordi, architect and Facility Manager, FM is especially important because, according to him, we must design spaces from the perspective of change. “We are making scenarios for life, not just design”. 

For María Callís, Retail has been leading for many years this collaborative work that facility management now demands and that the hotel industry must also adopt. “This change must be led from the retail perspective, from the perspective of permanent innovation”. For example, he explains, retail has learned to stop being real estate, as one of the main motivations for purchasing has become the user experience. However, the foundations of the hotel industry are still furniture and this change must be generated, starting by configuring the business from the customer’s perspective.

Regarding the environmental sustainability of buildings, for Iván Capdevila, environmental and energy consultant, sustainable design must be transversal and integral and we must achieve a positive energy use-compensation relationship with the environment. It is not only a question of generating a low energy demand (Near Zero Energy Building) but also that the energy input is greater than the energy consumed (Positive Energy Building). For Capdevila, for now we are far from achieving these models at the regulatory level, but it is technically possible to do so, especially in the Mediterranean area. “For this reason, a cultural change is necessary and we are now in a sweet moment, with an important environmental awareness”.

Finally, in addition to the implications for sustainability, there are also the implications for people’s health. For Sonia Hernández, architect at Arquitectura Sana, tools to improve health should be integrated from the beginning of architectural design and not later. Some examples of these tools are energy and health rehabilitation, design with indoor environment quality in mind, improving ventilation, universal accessibility or the inclusion of active greenery.  “We must adapt spaces to the real needs of users and where it is most important to integrate it is in existing buildings,” he insists. For all these changes, with implications for health and the environment, a cultural change is necessary. “We can’t pretend to change everything, but we can take responsibility for what we do”.

At Grup Idea we imagine and design spaces based on the business model and incorporate our experience to guarantee a surprising and profitable result. Discover now all the details about our services and projects carried out on the page Strategy and design of spaces.