Park Plaza NurembergAlia Akkam • Photography by Matthew Shaw • July 18, 2017
During the 15th and 16th centuries, Nuremberg flourished under the German Renaissance. Among the leaders of this enlightening movement were versatile artist and theorist Albrecht Dürer and astronomer and geographer Martin Behaim. These native sons are the centerpieces of London- and Croatia-based Scott Brownrigg’s design narrative for the Park Plaza Nuremberg. A transformation of the historic Bavarian-American Hotel, this 177-room addition to the Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts portfolio is, according to Scott Brownrigg group director and project lead Una Barac, a celebration of Dürer and Behaim’s cultural, scientific, and academic achievements.
Dürer’s paintings reveal a strong affinity for geometry, which is echoed throughout the hotel in various forms—the faceted façade of the front desk and low tables in the library area, for example. Celestial maps also underscore his fascination with star constellations, captured in paintings that Croatian artist Ivan Skrce reimagined with “bold strokes of white paint, gold, and bronze leaf,” Barac points out.
A reception lobby ceiling inspired by Dürer’s celestial sky studies “simply formed in dryline and painted with gold-leaf paint,” says Barac, does double duty as an eye-catching artistic installation and a solution to a strict budget and fire rating requirements: “We applied some simple materials in an innovative manner,” she explains. This is most certainly the case with the 3D rhinoceros sculpture by Scott Brownrigg and Croatian multimedia firm Synthesis. Fashioned from steel rods, it’s a nod to Dürer’s well-known woodcut of the animal. Likewise, Dürer’s watercolor masterpiece Young Hare spawned the seven rabbit sculptures dressing the windows along the main entrance.
Bespoke, planetary-inspired lighting comprising open, twisting arrangements of wires crafted from copper found throughout the F&B spaces and the central staircase call to mind Behaim’s passion for astronomy. As he is best known for designing the linen-and-wood Erdapfel—the world’s oldest surviving terrestrial globe—steel and plastic interpretations of it adorn the reception desk, console tables in the bar, and Travertine. This soaring restaurant, with an original black and white stone floor, finds warmth in well-preserved beams and pendants with softly hued lampshades dangling over banquettes. At the BA Beef Club, where patrons settle into gray, crushed-velvet seating, walls feature frames of amplified Dürer prints.
For guestrooms, a circa-1930s building yielded a delightful surprise for Barac: “We ended up with a significant number of room typologies; practically every one was unique,” she says. “We painstakingly designed furniture and bathrooms to suit and respect the existing structure.” A row of filament bulbs above the beds adds an industrial flourish to a soothing palette of purple, gray, and cream that contrasts with punches of burnished tangerine. The graphic carpet aptly resembles something dreamed up by a modern-day Dürer.