It’s been a busy six months for The Berkeley as a crack team of designers led by Robert Angell and London-based architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners worked on three major projects within the hotel – the first, an expanded entrance, and two extensions.
The new entrance, especially, has been long overdue – the former low-key approach is now considerably enhanced by impressive volumes and proportions.
The architects have unapologetically described their design as a first in hotel architecture. Specifically, Ivan Harbour, a partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour, says his firm was careful to avoid ‘the lightweight, ‘high tech’ add-on entrance canopy cliché that has pervaded our cities since Llloyd’s of London. At The Berkeley, we conceived the entrance as a complete new building – a contemporary lean-to.’
The reference to a lean-to is a sly understatement, for the new entrance is a dramatic statement piece, particularly in the evening when the whole structure practically flares in the dark.
A glass canopy is stretched out over 16 nine-metre-long carbon fibre beams that provide a pleasing geometrical pattern that provides structural strength without sacrificing the sense of feathery lightness. The entire structure rests on an austere forest of timber masts and stainless steel columns driven into the stone base. Flanking each end is a full-length glass pavilion, both forming the new extensions to The Berkeley’s beloved The Blue Bar and the newly christened Collins Room (formerly the Caramel Room).
Honeycomb details on the canopy glass and pavilions create a subtle effect of dappled light on the new lobby by Robert Angell who has installed veneered eucalyptus wood panels, marble floors, alabaster wall lights and nickel inlay details.
The project, as ambitious as it is, is only the first salvo in The Berkeley’s tip-to-toe spruce up. Up next is a series of new suites by designed by John Heah and Helen Green Studio, alongside new outdoor terraces by Rogers Stirk Harbour.