The Movement Hotel

Photography by Wouter van der Sar • April 5, 2018

Housed within the former Bijlmerbajes prison complex in Amsterdam, the pop-up Movement Hotel from nonprofit Movement on the Ground, which initiates projects for refugees, aims to “empower asylum seekers through job training and create an opportunity for a new beginning in the Netherlands,” says Chris Burghard, owner and senior interior architect of local firm Èmcé Interior Architecture, who crafted the 27-room boutique concept. Burghard did away with “a lot of somber colors and negative vibes” from the prison and drenched the lobby in vibrant shades of pink and red to contrast the hardness of the building’s bones. Hinting at its former use, the game room takes on the role of the prison yard, painted in a bright green with artificial grass for flooring and lush plants dotting the space. Former prison cells were converted into simple white and gray guestrooms with bathrooms sans showers (two communal ones can be found on each of the hotel’s four floors). Signs that read “Freedom?” line the walls, encouraging “guests to think about their freedom, but also the meaning of freedom for the refugees who have made a long journey for their safety and need to start a new life,” says Burghard. To further reiterate the powerful message behind the hotel, hanging above beds and in the game room are Willemijn Kappers’ portraits from his There is No Difference series, which merge the faces of refugees and non-refugees, proving how similar we all are.

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