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Aera Vertical Resort concept by OBMI

Thrown into turmoil after the pandemic-related restrictions of the past couple of years (compounded more recently by labour shortages and inflation), the hospitality industry is on the rebound — and seeking out novel ways to attract those who have made travel a top priority in 2023. For global architecture firm OBMI, which has been advising hospitality brands for more than eight decades, the emphasis is on delivering one-of-a-kind moments that are sustainable and human-centric. “It’s become harder to find unique and off-the-beaten-track experiences that are also sensitive to the environment,” notes the practice’s chairman Tim Peck.

The firm’s innovation lab first “explores the desires of guests, as well as the challenges facing developers and the industry as a whole,” then determines whether existing solutions apply or need to be reinvented, or if an entirely new resolution should be established. Here, he shares two of their recently developed concepts that anticipate and address how destination travel could change in the coming years.

In the Clouds
Aera Vertical Resort concept by OBMI's innovation lab

Sinuous and somewhat startling, OBMI’s idea for an urban resort proposes a new model for hospitality and tourism. What if, instead of having to travel by air to enjoy a stay at an exotic location, city-dwellers could simply hop on public transit to escape to a dreamy yet easily accessible vertical folly? That’s the gist behind the Aera Vertical Resort, a luxury destination contained within a conventional hotel-type building rather than spread across an island. Designed to include seven themed districts — culinary, art, fashion, drama, garden, wellness and family — the skyward-reaching retreat caters to all manner of tourists. Biophilic elements are front and centre: An abundance of plant life enhances the setting’s tranquility and helps to clean and remove CO2 from the air, reducing the need for artificial circulation. What’s more, as Peck notes, the concept could be used to rehabilitate an existing structure whose original program is no longer relevant (think post-pandemic office towers that are now standing near- empty) and revitalize surrounding urban markets by encouraging domestic travel.

On the Move
Habitāre modular concept by OBMI's innovation lab

An opportunity for high-end hoteliers to bring clients to remote and previously unreachable locations, Habitāre is a modular and movable concept that intends to be as sensitive to its surroundings as it is to the guest experience. The precise flat-pack design of the “land yacht” is manifold: It incorporates lightweight materials for both ease of on-site assembly and to reduce construction timelines (by more than 75 per cent) and costs (by more than two-thirds). The stiltlike foundations keep the structure off the ground for minimal environmental impact, and the units are solar-powered and self-sufficient and can simply be lifted back out and moved to the next location. The modular approach also allows for unlimited flexibility when it comes to layouts, which can shift and adapt to different needs, from basic and compact to complex with rooftop decks, plunge pools, firepits and more.

Two Innovative Proposals That Speculate the Future of Travel

Architecture firm OBMI explores new ways to see the world with two ambitious concepts.

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