Taking on a project on the scale of a hotel is a challenge at any stage in an architect’s career. Given the costs involved and the additional difficulty likely to be occasioned when making repairs later if anything goes wrong, and given the sheer number of people who could be at risk if a serious problem developed, it’s incredibly important the construction is properly managed – and that begins with selecting the right materials.
Building to last
The scale of investment involved in hotel construction encourages those involved to do the right thing and build to last. This should always be a priority for architects, but just what is involved in building to last depends on where the build is to be sited.
In an earthquake zone, for instance, the focus will be on finding materials with an appropriate degree of flexibility. In a tornado zone, strength and weight will be more important. Factors such as temperature and humidity will also factor in assessing the required durability of the material and the structure itself.
It’s rarely possible to achieve an ideal, so in the initial stages it’s important to set priorities. Cost, quality, durability, environmental friendliness and style are all factors that need to be taken into consideration, and this will influence the choice of materials.
Construction inevitably involves making compromises, between strength and durability, for example, so working out priorities ensures these can be approached in a practical way that is satisfactory to all parties involved.
Stone, bricks and concrete
Every architect and construction engineer has preferred materials, but most projects still involve deciding between using concrete, bricks, different types of stone, or a combination.
The resilience of concrete makes it good for situations in which buildings are likely to come under environmental stress. Bricks are solid, affordable and allow for a lot of flexibility. Stone offers solidity and is good for channelling airflow, as well as having an elegance that is ideal for some designs.
Iron and steel
Whatever choice is made for the bulk of the building, it’s equally important to choose the right skeleton. Unless the building is going to be particularly tall, this generally means iron or steel, which needs to be of sufficient quality to take the weight placed on it over time. Iron also needs to be appropriately treated or shielded to ensure it doesn’t rust.
To ensure they provide optimum performance, attention must also be paid to the quality of the nuts and bolts used to secure girders.
Glass always has an important role in construction, but rarely more so than in hotels, where attractive interiors are vital to the success of the building, so a heavy focus needs to be placed on natural illumination.
In projects where large quantities of glass are being incorporated, and where the safety of guests is a high priority, it’s particularly important to source glass that is both shatterproof and capable of standing up to pressure over time.
The best wholesale glass merchants offer a range of suitable glass at prices that allow hotel builders to take advantage of discounts due to the large orders they need to make.
When it comes to roofing, there’s a wide variety of choices available, but for most projects, excluding very tall buildings, little beats timber in terms of resilience, durability and price. What’s important is to ensure that the timber itself is of adequate quality. It’s always advisable to check this directly, especially on large-scale projects, rather than trusting suppliers to comply with regulations and supply exactly what has been requested.
It’s also important to listen to carpenters and joiners and ensure they feel able to voice any concerns they may have about the quality of the timber during the construction process.
Increasingly, hotels are selling themselves on their green credentials, and an environmentally-friendly build really helps with this. It can also boost the reputation of the construction company and architects involved.
There are two main aspects of green construction to consider – the use of sustainable materials in the building, and the use of materials that will reduce the fuel consumed by the building when construction is complete. Using materials that decrease the frequency with which maintenance work is required will also play a part in reducing the environmental impact of the building.
Although it usually means more upfront expense, using prefabricated parts – manufactured sections of buildings – can reduce overall costs by reducing the time it takes to complete the project. Prefabricated parts are particularly popular in hotel construction, where multiple identical units are needed.
Prefabricated parts can also make supervising conduction simpler, because it’s easier to check that prefabricated parts meet the required standard. They’re especially practical for internal units, such as bathrooms, where no major consideration needs to be made of their interaction with supporting walls or sources of natural light.
Construction and interior décor
Often, the materials intended to be used inside a building are given scant consideration when determining what is to be used in a build, but with a major building such as a hotel, it’s important not to overlook them.
A large quantity of solid wooden furniture, for instance, can add a considerable amount to the weight a building has to bear, and may alter the calculations necessary to ensure it has adequate foundations. In some cases, management of interior materials can also increase the options available; for example, paint impregnated with fungicide can help to manage damp, giving greater scope when it comes to aeration.
It’s important not to think of a hotel in the same way as an apartment or office block; different patterns of use and different client priorities are likely to mean the appropriate choice of materials for the former is quite different from the latter. Choosing the right construction materials at the outset minimises the risk of disruption later in the project, and ensures an attractive, top-quality result – and a happy client.
All Images From THE OLD CLARE HOTEL (courtesy of the Old Clare Hotel)