October 1, 2012

Project: B2 Boutique Hotel + Spa in Zurich

In Zurich, the 60-room B2 Boutique Hotel + Spa opened in March as part of the redevelopment of the circa-1867 Hürlimann Brewery. Known as Hürlimann-Areal, the factory grounds also house Google’s European engineering headquarters as well as a small assortment of shops, restaurants and a yoga studio.

From the outside, the building retains its factory profile, complete with a brick smokestack. Inside, however, the 19th and 21st centuries co-mingle in an open lobby that mixes industrial chic with homey comfort. Your eyes go directly to the library, with its 36-foot ceilings (it was where beer was brewed), walls lined with 33,000 books (purchased from an old local library) and three green-glass chandeliers (each made from 300 vintage Hürlimann beer bottles mounted on antique drying racks).

The architects, Margrit Althammer and René Hochuli of Zurich-based Althammer-Hochuli, faced a few challenges, including a structure that necessitated half floors (2A and 3A) and a layout that resulted in none of the 52 rooms in the main building having the same proportions; they range in size from 258 to 301 square feet. B2’s top accommodations are its eight duplex Hürlimann Suites (592 square feet, plus terrace), located in the brewery’s former cold storage.

Interiors are by Swiss firm Ushitamborriello: Innenarchitektur & Szenenbild, and all rooms feature oiled oak flooring, an open concept bathroom and a large artistic photo of the old brewery. “Each is unique,” says Katrin Wolf, the hotel’s General Manager. “Before the renovation, we captured 80 images in total.”

The most modern element is the Bookmark Boardroom, designed of exposed concrete to be both futuristic and earthquake-proof; it extends from the first floor to the top floor and supports the massive spa pool on the rooftop. That pool is part of Thermalbad & Spa Zurich, which shares the building, as well as the same architect and interior design team, with B2 as a partner in the $69 million project.

The spa occupies the basement and the rooftop and each area offers an entirely different immersive experience: The modern rooftop spa pool lets guests soak amid bubbling jets while enjoying a panorama of Zurich. The subterranean space, formerly the barrel filling area, is a 35,500-square-foot grotto-like water world where century-old vaulted ceilings shelter barrel-like tubs and an Irish-Roman Circuit (a 10-step series of steams and baths) fed by water from “Aqui” springs deep beneath Zurich.

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