Grand Music Conservatory Becomes Luxury Nordic Hotel

How do you build on the elegance of a 1903 Nordic building at the same time as redesigning it? This was the question the celebrated Danish architectural firm Wingårdhs faced with their interior renovation project for the new Nobis Hotel in Copenhagen. The chief architect Gert Wingårdh drew on his signature maximalist style to convert the building’s interior from its past as the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music to its future as a luxury boutique. Let’s explore it through the first episode of our latest series Hotel Lookbook.

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Wingårdh’s task had similar parameters to that of Claesson Koivisto Rune’s, who designed the original Nobis Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden back in 2009. Like Rune, Wingårdh had to both convert a grand 100+ year old building into a beautiful travellers’ pit stop as well as create a sophisticated space for the hotel’s signature room, the Nobis Suite.

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Copenhagen’s Nobis Hotel once had the atmosphere of its 75 rooms supplied by music. Now, blue and green colours supply each room with their emotive quality. Mobile hanging lights lead the way to cube-inspired four poster beds in a building unified by its centrepiece, a grand spiral staircase. The hotel has become an assembly point of some of the most innovative artefacts of modern design.

Wingårdh’s Nobis Suite itself, an exclusive 91-square metre space, has the ambiance of a hidden oasis: Swedish armchairs enchant its inbuilt sitting room, delicate detailed oak and window frames capture the room’s historic spirit, and grey Bardiglio marble lines the bathroom walls.

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The creation process for the second Nobis Hotel invites some questions. So THE PLUS sat down with its chief designer.

THE PLUS: Prior to becoming the Nobis Hotel, the building was the Royal Danish Academy of Music. Did you retain any of the building’s musical history?
Gert Wingårdh:
In spirit and as an inspiration we did, but not literally. We were inspired by art in many forms, such as sculpture, painting, music, poetry, as well as craftsmanship, design and architecture.

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TP: The building is rich with blue and green tones. What influenced this choice of colours?
GW:
The site itself. When we visited the building for the first time we also visited the building next door, Glyptotek. It has bright coloured rooms that serve as a vibrating base for the arts. And when looking out from the hotel rooms from Niels Brocks Gade you see the roof of the Glyptotek with its green copper in front of you. Shades of calm greens and blues were therefore a choice that felt natural and harmonising with both the outside surroundings and the fiction.

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TP: What sort of private space did you want to create with the addition of four poster beds?
GW:
Most of the rooms have great ceiling heights, a wonderful quality of course. But to create a more intimate setting, we made the bed as a room within a room.

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TP: Where were the hanging mobile-style lights sourced from?
GW:
It is specially designed for Nobis and this particular project. In the collaboration with Nobis we always design items and furniture unique for the different project.

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TP: What’s the story behind the spiral stairs installation?
GW:
When visiting the site the first time there was an old installation with small globes made of glass hanging in the stair. It was broken and couldn’t be re-used, but the idea was so nice that we kept the vision of having a chandelier hanging only as a centrepiece in the grand staircase. Our resulting modern version of the installation enhances and contrasts the beautiful and richly decorated staircase.

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TP: Was it difficult to balance a modern touch whilst embracing the building’s classical features?
GW:
Actually, no it wasn’t. It is so nice to start with a canvas that isn’t all white and empty. To have a building with its own history, its own design and soul. Our work was to find the right balance between being respectful but still a bit brave.

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TP: Did the building’s original architecture pose any creative limitations?
GW:
Yes, of course, but they weren’t impossible to solve architecture- or design-wise. But if you would have asked the building entrepreneurs you would have had another answer. They had to dig a whole new floor underneath the original basement for all the installations and that turned out to be a really big creative challenge.

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TP: How did you draw on the concept of ‘maximalism’ in the building’s design?
GW:
Perhaps in terms of material use. We used a palette that was narrowed downed to quite a few different kinds. And instead of using several material and finishes in one room we used for example Bardiglio marvel on both walls, floors and ceiling in the spa. You could say the design is a mix of both maximalism and minimalism.

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Photo: Xixi Zheng
Nobis Hotel is a member of Designhotels.

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