Hotel with a futurist exterior in the Old Town of Kuressaare

Location: Kuressaare, Estonia
Client: Arens Vara OÜ
Invited architecture competition: 2005, 1st prize
Completed: 2007
Size: 3,000 m2

The resort town of Kuressaare charms its visitors with its compact city centre, low and dense housing and romantic atmosphere. The urban structure around the central square of the town, which developed over many centuries, and the Medieval castle on the shore of the Baltic sea create a fascinating cityscape, the core of which runs along Lossi Street. The Arensburg hotel is also located on Lossi Street, and in 2007, a new extension to the historic building just by the street was designed by KOKO architects. The design for the new building was selected from among projects submitted to an invitation only architecture competition.

As the significance of Kuressaare as a resort town has increased, the hotel wished to add new rooms as well as spaces for recreational services. The nature of the extension is inspired by the historic architecture of Kuressaare, yet the design makes it clear that it is a new and contemporary building. The gabled roof and spaces using slanted surfaces make direct reference to the surrounding historic buildings, and yet the structure with its dense black futurist exterior is in clear contrast with its environment.

The old and the new building are effortlessly and delicately connected via a gallery, creating an organic interior and a backdrop to the semi-private outdoor courtyard that the hotel uses as a terrace during the summer. The ground floor of the hotel houses a beauty salon, a spacious lounge, a conference room and a swimming pool, connected to recreational spaces on the basement level. The private rooms for guests, each with a unique design, are located on the upper floors. The rooms are luxurious and light-filled, yet have an intimate feel, as they are situated just below the pitch of the roofing. Just like elsewhere in the building, the interior design of the rooms also integrates the old and the new – contemporary designs are supplemented by magnified details from historic paintings, used to decorate furniture.

The extension of the Arensburg hotel may seem like a spaceship on the quiet streets of Kuressaare. Nevertheless, the building is easily approachable and welcoming to guests. Its high quality materials and the fresh design, respectful of history, create additional value in the local environment and evoke interest among visitors. Like the historic castle of Kuressaare, the Arensburg hotel extension appears to be somewhat mystical – it has an air to it that is hard to put into words, yet easily experienced with mind and body by each new guest.

Text: Carl-Dag Lige