Design focus: The Act hotel, Sharjah
Draw Link’s Daousser Chennoufi speaks to Marina Mrdjen-Petrovic about The Act, a five-star, theatre-inspired hotel offering in Sharjah
Focussing on Sharjah’s unique historical and cultural tourism potential, Dubai-based architecture and interior design firm Draw Link Group was assigned the tricky task of creating a hotel that would contribute to the development of the tourism offerings while also adding value to Sharjah’s leisure facilities.
The client wanted an authentic and affordable hotel that would become a new symbol in the heart of the emirate, and would also appeal to culture-savvy travellers who are visiting Sharjah for different festivals, fairs, and events. The design team came up with the concept of a theatrically themed hotel.
The Act is the second hotel in Sharjah developed by Draw Link, following the completion of H72 Hotel.
“The Act hotel was born to support the strong cultural growth of Sharjah, not only through the name of the hotel and its sophisticated design, but through the entire hospitality concept, with distinctive branding features and communication collateral,” explains Daousser Chennoufi, the company’s CEO and key architect.
The 21,727 m2 property covers 18 floors, offering 180 rooms and suites. The Sharjah hotel also houses The Oscars all-day-dining restaurant and The Scene coffee lounge, plus five meeting rooms, a ballroom, a spa, gym, and outdoor swimming pool.
Customised, out-of-scale, standing stage projector lights have been deliberately positioned in the main lobby to immediately provoke a ‘theatrical’ feeling as soon as one enters the hotel.
Other design features include pendant ceiling lights, contemporary artwork inspired by the famous tragedies, and a large print of the renowned Oscars cinematic figurine in the all-day-dining outlet.
Chennoufi adds: “The finished result is an unmatched atmosphere of mystery achieved through the considered combination of statement furniture pieces, which keep the visitor intrigued and entertained, and the overall contemporary minimalist sophistication in-line with the expected warmth of hospitality outlets.”
To enhance the dramatic ambience of the space, the light fittings were strategically placed in such a way as to light up the reception area and then gradually dim the light intensity while going deeper into the hotel.
“If we perceive the hotel to be a theatrical entity, the bright public areas can be visualised as ‘stages’ while the ‘proscenium’ spaces (corridors, lounges, elevator halls) are purposely designed to be darker, with the ‘crossover’ (back-of-house offices) entirely concealed from the visitors,” he says.
Even in the most unexpected locations, one can find a small surprise, such as motivational quotes in English and French engraved into wall panels.
When it comes to budget, Chennoufi explains that as a first stage, Draw Link Group typically splits the budget allocated to the common areas and the guest rooms.
“We tried to source innovative hard finishes that are both more practical to use and cheaper than traditional natural materials, such as wood and marble, in order to be able to elevate the level of the furniture pieces and use well-known brands,” he says.
Each public space and subspace in the hotel is provided with its own subtle identity, highlighting the nuances and confines of each one through the use of creative lighting effects, the choice of materials, and detailed finishing, without actually dividing up the space as a whole.
This enabled the design team to create the lobby space in a wide variety of different configurations and interior architectures, according to the needs and circumstances required by the operator.
Draw Link tried to upgrade the typical guestrooms by incorporating the services found in hotel apartments, using the available space to its maximum potential. This was achieved through the provision of a kitchenette in the suites, making the rooms more functional.
The rooms are designed to adapt to different circumstances and moods by being split into two key zones: the sleeping area and the social/entertainment area. This allowed flexibility to adjust to the desires and needs of visiting guests.
In order to make the minimalist design of the hotel playful and warm, Draw Link has placed a significant amount of emphasis on the integration of textures and colours.
Every material used for The Act has a subtle texture that adds a personalised touch, such as textured veneer desks in the meeting rooms; woven carpets with cross-weave patterns; intricate, laser-cut, curvaceous patterns in the corridor; and solid surface wall panels.