The Krystall Hotel is a fascinating project on many levels — first, it may herald a kind of normalization to a disruptive idea: a hotel that floats. Second, the architectural firm on this project is Dutch Docklands, an international group that is a world leader in building floating structures. Right now, they are building the Krystall, in the shape of a snowflake, and the Ocean Flower, an even larger floating hotel project in the Maldives. Both hotels are in pristine marine areas.
The Maldives are better known than the fjords near Tromsø, but for those who have been there, it is understandable why this area was chosen by the architects to create this unusual hotel. There is an atmospheric clarity to Tromsø, both in the air and in the water. The fjords are clear, clean, and deep blue, and the sky is usually just as clear, a perfect place to see the Northern Lights.
Tromsø is in the middle of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) zone, and is one of the best places in the world to observe the Aurora. Because of the Earth’s rotation, Tromsø moves into the Aurora zone around 6 pm, and moves out again around midnight, so the Aurora can be seen in late Autumn, Winter and very early Spring. As it is light round the clock in the Summer, no aurora is visible between late April and mid-August. It is then the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Most of Tromsø, including the city center, is located on the island of Tromsøya, 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The city is warmer than most other places located on the same latitude, due to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. Thus, the Krystall will be located in a spectacular area – and not profoundly cold, either. Scheduled to be open by 2016, the Krystall will have 86 rooms, conference facilities, a spa plus wellness facilities, a glass roof, and will float on seawater in a fjord near Tromsø.
The hotel is designed to be completely self-supporting and self-sustainable, and will have a diameter of 120 meters, or nearly 400 feet across. It’s also considered the perfect spot for viewing the Northern Lights due to its glass roof. The Krystall will be five star luxury hotel, and is aimed at attracting wealthy visitors from Japan, Russia and Europe. Another reason Tromsø was chosen is its large international airport.
Koen Olthius, lead architect on this project, discussed his vision recently, saying, “In the hotel, you’ll float through hallways lined with cool, futuristic blue shapes, recline by a fireplace faced in transparent bricks resembling ice blocks and sleep in rooms tricked out in minimalist, winter-themed designs.” Butalso according to Olthius, whose vision and mission is deeply eco-sensitive, there is a green DNA as well. “The hotel is to be built in dry dock, and then positioned in place. It is meant not to leave a lasting footprint on its location. That’s the only way to bring a hotel to such a precious and beautiful marine environment.Building on water brings us new space for expansion, and because it is floating we do not have any impact on that location. We call it a scarless development. If you take it away after hundred years or so, it will not leave any physical footprint” Olthius said.
Finally, if the hotel guest is concerned about the hotel’s possibility of floating away, Olthuis says the design is merely a larger version of a system used in many other floating houses in Norway and elsewhere. As Olthius said, “The floating basis is very big and because of that also very stable so you will not notice any movement. The shape provides most of the stability but additional technology with dampers, springs and cables is used to take away any acceleration.”
The idea of a floating hotel on an ocean surface, an example of a scarless development, 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, may indeed be a vision and a template of the future. It will be exciting and educational to see how Dutch Docklands creates this solid vision on a mobile, marine surface.
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