Avant-garde architecture


Icon Hotel Hong Kong: Design, Style and Social Responsibility

Federico Tibytt


Icon Hotel Hong Kong is recognized for its strict sustainability policies and green initiatives, put into practice by the staff and fostered among the guests.


Each year, the United Nations (UN) grants the World Tourism Organization Awards for Excellence and Innovation, also known as the Ulysses Award. The coveted prize recognizes the industry’s most innovative and sustainable initiatives. In 2013, the beautiful Icon Hotel in Hong Kong, is the only hotel among the 13 finalists and one of the few projects that are commercially sustainable.

Icon Hotel Hong Kong

The magnificent building, located in the Kowloon district, opened its doors in 2011. It is part of Hong Kong´s Polytechnic University and, among other functions, serves as a hospitality school where thousands of tourism professionals are trained every year. “In our little universe, teachers, students and hospitality professionals unite under one goal: to make the guest’s stay is an absolutely memorable and enjoyable experience,” said Richard Hatter, General Manager of the Icon Hotel in Hong Kong.

The hotel was designed to showcase the strong Chinese cultural heritage. It boasts all the comfort and sophistication expected from a luxury hotel in the 21st century. To achieve its goals, a multicultural team of architects, interior designers, landscapers and artists were commissioned to create and build this Asian jewel.

The building was designed by renowned architect Rocco Yim, creator of other magnificent structures such as the Guangzhou Museum, located in the Chinese city of Guangdong. Sir Terrence Conran and Dr. Patrick Blanc should be credited for the stunning interiors. Conran designed Above & Beyond restaurant, located in the hotel’s 28th floor with magnificent panoramic views of the city. On the other hand, Dr. Blanc built the spectacular vertical garden that adorns the lobby, the largest in Asia with more than 8,600 plants of 71 different species.

Icon Hotel Hong Kong

Meanwhile, designers William Lim and Vivienne Tam took care of the exclusive furnishings, and Barney Cheng designed the uniforms for the employees. All this work was carried out under the expert supervision of Freeman Lau.

This interdisciplinary group is a sample of the best local talent combined with the necessary international imprint. The result is a perfect balance of refined style and traditional hospitality, elegant and informal design, adaptability and passionate Chinese sensibility.

The Icon Hotel has 262 rooms. The smaller Icon Rooms have an area of 410 square feet and offer views of the city and the bay. According to their name, the rooms called Above & Beyond reach new levels of luxury. These majestic suites range between 700 and 860 square feet of surface area and have access to the hotel´s exclusive section, which features a restaurant and a relaxation center located on building’s top floors.

Icon Hotel Hong Kong

The crown jewel is the master suite, envisioned by the famous designer Vivienne Tam. This spectacular apartment, located on the 27th floor, boasts the best views of Hong Kong´s skyline. Designed according to feng shui principles, with bright colors and an enigmatic fusion of East and West, this suite exudes an unusual combination of luxury and minimalism.

The centerpiece of the living room is a curvaceous bright red sofa, an exclusive piece by the Bouroullec Brothers that blends into a wooden table made of Japanese cherry. The bedroom, meanwhile, is marked by the Shanghai Art Deco style, with a sensual purple bed and decorative table lamps on a contrasting red velvet carpet. To create a more personal touch, Tam included a very special portrait made with pieces of Swarovski crystal, inspired by the Kun Chinese opera.

As expected, this hotel offers a wide variety of services and amenities, including a state-of-the-art spa, fitness and body wellness area, outdoor pool on the building’s top floor, a bar, and restaurants serving the best Asian food and international cuisine.

Icon Hotel Hong Kong

However, there is one aspect that truly distinguishes Hong Kong´s Icon Hotel: its strict policy of sustainability and green practices that are put into practice not only by the staff, but is also fostered among the guests. For example, the hotel has an energy saving plan that reduces C02 emissions through temperature conditioning systems that use water instead of air.

Moreover, the architects have taken full advantage of natural light and ventilation, and the artificial lighting comes from high efficiency LED lights, controlled by an intelligent system that turns them off when not needed. The Icon also has strict waste recycling program and a social responsibility initiative committed to the donation of all excess food in good condition to the Food Angels Association for social support.

This huge list of unique features and innovations has captivated the jurors of the UN Ulysses Award. Now, we just have to wait, until the end of the month, to see if this hotel, unique in the world, adds another award to its long list of international accolades.  ■


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