Right Here Right nhow | Take Two
Hard edged dockside architecture meets playful futuristic design. Nowhere is the status of a city and its wellbeing better reflected in its music than Berlin. The two are intertwined. Think the Weimar Republic and its jazz cafés. Of course the legend of a libertarian culture destroyed by fascism was propagated by the film Cabaret. Fast forward a century and post war Berlin’s inherent appeal was again its openness. It was an anomaly, an oasis of extremity created by the Cold War. Here, anything could happen.
David Bowie arrived in Berlin towards the end of the 70s. He became immersed in the German music of the period. It was saturated in absence, loss and distance. Bands such as Kraftwerk influenced his craft, his work. Bowie’s piece V 2 Schneider reverberates to the rhythm of an S Bahn train. He recorded two thirds of his Berlin Trilogy – Low and Heroes but not Lodger – at the city’s legendary Hansa Studios. As the curtain fell on communism and the 20th century, techno music would emerge, climaxing with the euphoric blaze that was Love Parade.
Which brings us to right here right now. nhow Berlin is iridescently present, a tangible addition to the waterscape, a representation of contemporary immediacy. Its roots materialise from the city’s relationship with music – more anon. With the hotel’s opening, a new layer of meaning is added to the decadence and disharmony of the not so distant past.
Positioned along the River Spree, the old line between the East and West, nhow Berlin is a fusion of Sergei Tchoban’s architecture and Karim Rashid’s design. Russian born Sergei’s creation is a cubist arrangement of boxes piled high, the top one perilously cantilevering over the others by a gravity defying 10 metres. The underside is clad in reflective steel. Sergei says he is seeking to “convey the image of a ‘crane house’”. Other planes are covered by an aluminium or brick skin punctured by square windows. It’s all about clean lines, perpendicular angles and understated colourways. Enter the tinted glass doors – white outside; pink inside – and a whole new world unfolds.
New Yorker Karim’s interiors celebrate the German capital’s zeitgeist. He employs a progressive language to describe his oeuvre. The terms ‘infostethic’, ‘blobject’ and ‘technorganic’ are given three dimensional form. Karim says, “My vision engages technology, visuals, textures, colours, as well as all the needs that are intrinsic to living in a simpler less cluttered but more sensual environment.” Strata of irregular lines, asymmetric shapes and psychedelic patterns constantly redefine the hotel experience. Here, anything can happen.
Take the reception desk. It’s a pink amorphous sculpture with inset lighting. Beyond lies an expanse of white space stretching to a glazed wall overlooking the river. A giant continuous profile of Mussolini made of gold lacquered fibreglass hovers over the bar. Piped music radiates across the ground floor by day; live gigs rock it by night. Art or seating? The luminous voluptuous organic and ergonomic sofas are both. The restaurant is segregated from the bar by sheer curtains lined with a radio wave digipop pattern.
The hot pink rooms of the East Tower take their cue from sunrise. Sky blue dominates the rooms of the West Tower. The rooms of the 10 storey Upper Tower are calming grey to counteract the vertigo inducing views. Televisions double as radio wave shaped mirrors. Floors are acoustic friendly laminate painted with the digipop pattern. Guests can rent a keyboard or guitar in their room.
Two recording studios on the eighth floor of the Upper Tower are run by the co directors of the Hansa Studios. An adjacent music lounge is equipped with the latest multimedia technology – and a pink jukebox. The lounge, conference rooms and even the roof terrace are all directly wired to the studios. This allows for impromptu recordings.
nhow Hotel is in Osthafen, a destination of the new Berlin. It’s between the offices of MTV and Universal Music. Yet history is on its doorstep. Fragments of the Berlin Wall are a stone’s throw away. David Bowie could easily have been gazing out over the dizzying panorama from the music lounge when he penned Thru These Architect’s Eyes, “All majesty of a city landscape | All the soaring days in our lives”. Back in London, a few years ago David Bowie called in with Tracey Emin to Christ Church Spitalfields. He was there to see the Richard Bridge Organ, once played by Handel. Bowie voiced the desire to play the organ once it had been restored. The Richard Bridge Organ was restored in 2015. David Bowie died in 2016. Here, anything may happen.