Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mamilla Hotel by Piero Lissoni

A significant cultural, architectural and touristic evolution of the urban fabric of one of the world’s most iconic and timelessly beautiful cities has occurred with the opening of the first luxury lifestyle hotel in Jerusalem and Israel: Mamilla Hotel. Located in a remarkable position in the city centre with breath-taking views of the Old City walls, the Tower of David and Jaffa Gate, the Mamilla is a modern, world-class hotel that combines a distinctly international outlook with the unique cultural heritage of this most magnetic, frenetic, incredible city.
The Moshe Safdie-built and Piero Lissoni-designed Mamilla Hotel is a pivotal emblem of the fascinating development and modernization of the local region. Jerusalem’s long history – arguably unparalleled in its universal human appeal and importance – is etched onto the city’s architectural façades in a rich and sometimes truly jaw-dropping display of different forms, styles and shapes, manifesting in monumental icons such as the Western Wall of the Second Temple (dating from 19 BCE) and The Dome of the Rock (685 – 691 CE), and contemporary masterpieces such as Santiago Calatrava’s harp-like bridge for the new city tram system (2008). With this vast architectural history and diversity as a profound context, the prime position within Jerusalem of the Mamilla site and the hotel’s pioneering mission represented the ultimate design brief; one that both Israeli-born Moshe Safdie and Italian Piero Lissoni were inevitably drawn to.
Known outside Israel for buildings such as the Shenzhen Cultural Centre in China, Montreal’s Habitat 67 residential community (which has recently been awarded historical status by the Government of Québec) and the new Marina Bay Sands Casino complex in Singapore, and inside Israel for Ben Gurion airport’s new Terminal 3 building, the new Yad VaShem holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and the Alrov Mamilla Avenue – a shopping and entertainment experience overlooking the Old City, alongside the hotel – Moshe Safdie’s appointment as project architect places the Mamilla amongst some of the most important and visually arresting buildings in the world. Heeding Jerusalem law which dictates that all new 3 construction utilizes Jerusalem Stone – a local limestone with a distinctive, light hue, designed to protect and respect the city’s precious architectural beauty – Safdie has created a stunning structure that emanates the characteristic shine of the stone, and in doing so has developed a true Jerusalem aesthetic that is both modern and in keeping with the very ancient walls and buildings next door.
Piero Lissoni brings to the Mamilla a wealth of product and furniture design, interiors and architectural experience, all of which have firmly positioned him as one of the most globally respected and in-demand designers currently working. Lissoni has designed for a stellar list of brands including Boffi, Cassina, Kartell, Alessi, Poltrona Frau, Living Divani and Porro, whilst key interiors and architectural projects include the Hotel Monaco and Grand Canal, the Mitzui Garden Hotel in Tokyo, store design for Ellie Tahari and new private residences at Dellis Cay for Mandarin Oriental. Lissoni’s signature paired-back, Italian minimalist aesthetic – a debut for a Jerusalem hotel – is magnificently contextualized and framed by the historic Jerusalem architecture, and through unique emboldening touches, producing an extraordinary result when housed in Safdie’s modern classic edifice.
 Lissoni’s design plays with light throughout the hotel. Inspired by the strong Jerusalem sun, dark colors of the public areas are broken up by the outside light. Intimacy and simple sophistication are key, with the manipulation of light designed to create unique – and special – experiences. A heterogeneous approach to furnishing sees modern alongside antique and Chinese pieces next to Italian, producing a rich and detailed aesthetic that is at the same time quiet and clean, toned down with simple finishes and the pervasive, uplifting Jerusalem light.