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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NeoRetro - Hotel Roger de Flor (Preservation of the Not So Old)...


Roger de Flor is a hotel, roughly an hours drive North-East of Barcelona. Occupying the crescent of a steep hill, overlooking the small holiday town of Lloret de Mar and the Mediterranean Sea, the hotel's location, which seems to rest almost haphazardly on top of an elongated cliff-face, can't be faulted. Based on the design of its exterior and various interiors, a rough estimate would put its age at about 50-60 years. In character it also reflects a distinct, 'Bond-ish' (early 'Sean Connery-esque') quality. The oak paneled lounges and staccato-stepped exterior terraces retain a subdued ambiance perfect for enjoying colored drinks served in thin-necked classes and the husky fragrances of flavored cigarillos. This quality is also what distinguishes it from many of its fellow, more recently renovated, beach-side hotels whose designs unfortunately, more often then than not, seem to fade into the aesthetically neutered realm of Ikea-plush - a generic and conceptually insipid take on mid-nineteen century modernism. Hotel Roger de Flor seems to have been able to resist the temptation to settle or, as it's usually referred to as, 'update' its look. Its interiors and outside spaces have a seductive time-based varnish, which has been achieved through the delicate and restrained erosion a few generations worth of feet, hands, sun, rain and wind. As an entity its old enough to already have experienced a few cycles of 'retro' (in the eighties there was a revival of the 1950:ties music, fashion and design; a similar look back to the early 1960:ies can be seen in the buzz surrounding the current Mad Men phenomena), yet still young enough to have a generations of baby-boomers around that were a part in defining its original stylistic paradigms. There is an inherent value in retaining the not-so-distant past. Entities (be these objects or buildings) that often fall into the unfortunate age bracket of being too young to be considered a part of established history, yet too old to be considered be included as reflective of our current zeitgeist - of being contemporary or fashionable enough to be included in our daily surroundings. This is unfortunate as, perhaps a bit like dog-years, furniture and building also have their own comparable scales for timing or aging that often differ from their users. A well built and designed (and maintained) building or piece of furniture can outlast its devotees by an exponential factor, something that's regrettably out of sync with our attention-spans and are thus often irreplaceably shortchanged by the whims and impulses of its users.

Lamentably much of the Gulf region shows evidence of this both in the way it consumes and discards objects as well as in the way it treats various, both residential as well as commercial, pieces of architecture from its not too distant past. It would be nice to begin seeing evidence of projects that take the same degree of pride in structures from Kuwait's (or/ and the UAE's, Qatar's, Bahrain's, etc.) more recent history as they seems to have taken in this Catalonian example.

The courtyard side facade...

The hotel facade by the drive-in, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea...

The pool and terrace overlooking the town and Mediterranean sea below...

A painted wrought-iron seating arrangement around a terrazzo table...

A 'smoking room' next to the terrace bar...

An old-school cigarette vending machine...

A painting adjacent to the reception lobby...

Reception courtyard...

View over the (back) mountains...

Statue, pool, parasol, sea...

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