Those wanting to know more about the shape of the travel industry of the future, should look to the finalists of the Radical Innovation competition, which is gearing up to announce its winner next month on 16 October 2019. The yearly competition challenges designers, hoteliers, and students to pioneer compelling ideas in travel.
Three finalist companies will be competing for the prize in a live pitch presentation at the New Museum in New York, with an audience vote (made up of industry influencers and investors) deciding the winner, who will receive $10,000 and access to industry experts who can further their concept.
The idea behind the award is to challenge the hotel industry to elevate the guest experience by calling for new ideas in design and operations. Since its founding, it has handed over $150,000 to progressive architectural and hospitality-minded thinkers.
This year, the 13thof the competition, the three finalists were selected from over 50 entries, submitted from 20 different countries. Fighting it out are Infinite Explorer by SB Architects, San Francisco, Volumetric High-Rise Modular Hotel by Danny Forster & Architecture, New York, Connectic by Cooper Carry, New York.
Based in San Francisco, SB Architects’ Infinite Explorer is a hospitality concept that helps travelers connect with remote destinations using the American West’s defunct passenger rail lines which now span the nation. What were once bustling railways are now silent and forgotten vestiges of our past. Many of these railways span untapped, truly breathtaking, locations, but provide no footing for hospitality development. The Infinite Explorer provides a unique opportunity to embrace and transform the existing infrastructure of these underutilized spaces, making the unreachable, reachable.
“Train travelers usually only capture a glimpse of the immense beauty that passes by outside their window, but imagine if you could step out of your cabin into the wilderness to feel, touch, and smell it? Each stop along the route is unique and designed with an immersive program of activity, including outdoor adventures, wellness and dining; designed to astound, delight and capture the guest’s imagination at every turn. The Infinite Explorer is a one-of-a-kind hospitality experience. One train, infinite possibilities,” explains the company.
Next up is New York’s Danny Forster & Architecture’s Volumetric High Rise Modular Hotel. AC by Marriott at 842 6th Avenue, New York City, will be the tallest modular hotel in the world when it opens in early 2020. But it won’t just be a step up for modular design, it will be a step forward. The building leverages the advantages of modular construction, uses cutting-edge proprietary technology to address potential drawbacks, and, most importantly, put to rest the idea that a modular building can only be the sum of its factory-made parts.
“It’s stylish and architecturally expressive. And, yes, 80 per cent of the building’s square footage will be shipped in – precisely constructed and complete down to the curtains, TV, sconce and even art – from a factory in Poland” says the company. “The perfect marriage of modular construction and inventive architectural design, this Manhattan AC points the way to the future by using accelerated design processes through VR software and off-site quality control to streamline the building process for builders anywhere in the world. DF&A and its tech partner patented a ‘Time Machine’ technology that trains 3D cameras on each module at five different points in the construction process, so that clients, contractors, and architects can keep an eye on what’s being built. Furthermore, this technology syncs those images to the VR plans, which means off-site stakeholders and on-site factory workers can compare what a module looks like at a particular stage to what it should look like.”
Finally, Connectic by New York’s Cooper Carry, employs modular construction techniques to fill underutilized spaces by way of collapsible, modular units that are flexible and adaptable to respond to variety of environments. This concept could be used to build a pop-up hotel in remote area or to help solve problems of space and density in urban cores.
“Interstitial spaces between buildings, parking lots, forgotten pocket parks, and above buildings offer an opportunity for hotels of the future to use Connectic’s model to increase volume of available keys and amenities and connect neglected spaces to existing hotels,” says the company. “This would become an aggregation that can swell and shrink as needed. A collective of modules that are at once collapsible and reusable. Conflating multiple revenue streams into a single solution. And, a kinematic proposal to temporary events.”
Finalists were selected by a jury of hospitality and design experts: Claude Amar, managing director, The John Hardy Group International; Wing T. Chao, founder, Wing T. Chao Global Advisors; John Hardy, president/CEO, The John Hardy Group; Michael Medzigian, chairman & managing partner, Watermark Capital Partners, LLC; Jena Thornton, principal, hospitality, Kinzer Partners; Simon Turner, managing director, Alpha Lodging Partners, LLC; and James Woods, WeWork.
In addition to the three professional finalists, the jury selected one student submission from among the many entries. This year’s student winner is Rooftop Hotel Gardens by Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaidullin from Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering (KSUAE) in Russia.
“Rooftop Hotel Gardens offers a hotel concept placeable in any city that gives guests a chance to experience skyline of cities in an isolated peaceful space fully merged with an urban environment” the students explain. “The conceptual hotel chain provides locations on rooftops and services throughout the city. Each guest can reserve a room on the open roof of any participating building. Thanks to a network throughout the city, if guests want, they have the opportunity to change place and module during the entire period of their stay.”
Whether it’s a sky-high room for the night or a new way of conceiving disused spaces, the award is one way of looking ahead to the future of travel, revealing exciting and innovative ideas for the shape of travel. “We mobilize disruptors from around the world with the ideas to propel the industry forward,” says Radical Innovation. “The result is a creative community gathered by the same passion for innovation, introducing the dreamers to those equipped with the necessary resources to bring such concepts to life.” Watch this space…