Travel & Transport special
Limited-edition cover by Santiago Calatrava
The newly completed Sofitel Stephansdom in Vienna by French architect Jean Nouvel.
The building, visible from different parts of the city centre, is after nightfall a beautifully illuminated beacon.
It plays down its height (it towers most of its neighbours at about 80m tall) with a string of horizontal bursts of bright colour, the work of renowned Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist.
The main centrepiece is magnificent top-level Le Loft restaurant, headed by 3-Michelin-starred chef Antoine Westermann of Parisian Drouant Restaurant fame. The colour explosion that is Rist's ceiling creation is certainly worth the climb, beautifully enhanced by Nouvel's clever near-floating roof design. By tipping the ceiling edges slightly upward and adding a subtle angle to the glass walls, Nouvel created a beautiful impression of infinity through the reflections.
Daylight, brought inside through different openings (like Le Loft’s floor to ceiling glass walls, pictured) and shimmering on several glass and mirror surfaces, is accentuated by Rist's work, creating a kaleidoscopic effect.
Rist’s work is highly visible from the street level too, highlighting the project.
Le Loft, is the hotel’s top level restaurant, offering breathtaking views of the city.
The cathedral's tiles are referenced in some of the glass skin patterns, creating a dialogue between the old and new.
The breathtaking city views were also certainly something the architect wanted to make the most of.
The external shape is underlined in three different levels by Rist's colourful ceiling compositions, one at the entrance, one on the lobby's high ceiling and thirdly on Le Loft, whose bar area is pictured above.
Contrary to the artist's bright and intricate artworks, the interiors by Nouvel are kept in simple colours, which is they key to why the two styles blend so well together.
Only grey, white and black is used, while simple handwritten transcribed lines on the walls from videos made by a selection of students from the Vienna School of Fine Arts, present the guest with a little art surprise in each room.
Even the furniture included - much of it designed by the architect himself - follows each room's colourway (they come in full grey, full white, a playful full black, and combinations of these).
Nouvel’s furniture and product designs were also used in the hotel’s public spaces.
The special all-black room is a playful addition.
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