I have a bone to pick with contemporary architecture. How do we make good stuff? What does it take? It is worth noting that we are abundantly a visual species. Over 70% of all nerve function in our bodies takes place in the eyes. But is it enough? Can we just make good looking buildings? Asymptote Architecture has certainly done that.

 © Courtesy of Asymptote Architecture

The Yas Hotel is a 500 room, hotel located in Abu Dhabi. It incorporates an 85,000 square-meter complex and becomes a part of the greater Yas Marina development. The hotel’s star attraction (other than its proximity to the grand prix tracks) is the large steel ‘drape’ that envelopes the hotel. 5,800 pivoting, diamond shaped glass panels fit with steel framing. Contained beneath the semi-opaque shell are two hotel ‘towers’ and an adjoining bridge which spans the Formula 1 track that cuts through the complex.

 © Courtesy of Asymptote Architecture

However. I am not impressed with the hotel structures themselves. If I may be excused for directness- One doesn’t live up to the other. And that one is the Holiday Inn hiding underneath a beautiful work of architecture. The ‘drape’ exhibits clarity, a sense of purpose and an overall beautiful form. The sterile floor plates punctuating facades that make up the hotels display none of these characteristics. But before I digress too far, the life contained within the shell seems to reemerge beyond the hotel facade and seek refuge in the interiors. So it is a question of facades and we humans being so visually oriented, would perhaps like to see a little more continuity of execution.

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