2019 Radical Innovations Awards Are Not Too Innovative or Radical

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©. Danny Forster & Architecture via Radical Innovation

But the hotel design competition is always interesting, even in an off year.

TreeHugger has covered the Radical Innovation Awards over the years, and has often been impressed with some of the wild ideas. The competition, set up by hotel consultancy The John Hardy Group, "challenges the hotel industry to elevate the guest experience by calling for new ideas in design and operations." This is not a stellar year for entries.

One of the three finalists, SB Architects, had an interesting idea: a special train that stops at beautiful spots across the country.

Infinite Explorer | SB Architects | San Francisco

Train at the hot springs

© SB Architects via Radical Innovation

Train travelers usually only capture a glimpse of the immense beauty that passes by outside their window, but imagine if you could step out of your cabin into the wilderness to feel, touch, and smell it? Each stop along the route is unique and designed with an immersive program of activity, including outdoor adventures, wellness and dining; designed to astound, delight and capture the guest’s imagination at every turn. The Infinite Explorer is a one-of-a-kind hospitality experience. One train, infinite possibilities.
Train at beach

© SB Architects via Radical Innovation

And then one rendering, same car, with ten different screensaver backdrops. Really?

Connectic | Cooper Carry | New York


© Cooper Carry via Radical Innovation

There is a kids' toy that does this, piles of Buckyballs stuck together. There is no explanation of how you get from one room to the other, but it looks cool.

Neon closeup of hotel rooms

© Cooper Carry via Radical Innovation

Connectic employs modular construction techniques to fill underutilized spaces by way of collapsible, modular units that are flexible and adaptable to respond to variety of environments. This concept could be used to build a pop-up hotel in remote area or to help solve problems of space and density in urban cores.
interior of hotel suite

© Cooper Carry via Radical Innovation

Beautiful renderings, but they forgot the handrails.

Interstitial spaces between buildings, parking lots, forgotten pocket parks, and above buildings offer an opportunity for hotels of the future to use Connectic’s model to increase volume of available keys and amenities and connect neglected spaces to existing hotels.

Volumetric High-Rise Modular Hotel | Danny Forster & Architecture | New York

HOtel room module

© Danny Forster & Architecture via Radical Innovation

This is, I think, a first in our coverage of the competition: a real building, a modular hotel in Times Square for Marriot. It's not even the first one in New York; Citizen M did that.

Hudson yards hotel top

© Danny Forster & Architecture via Radical Innovation

But it won’t just be a step up for modular design, it will be a step forward. The building leverages the advantages of modular construction, uses cutting-edge proprietary technology to address potential drawbacks, and, most importantly, put to rest the idea that a modular building can only be the sum of its factory-made parts.
Hotel room interior

© Danny Forster & Architecture via Radical Innovation

It’s stylish and architecturally expressive. And yes, 80 percent of the building's square footage will be shipped in—precisely constructed and complete down to the curtains, TV, sconce and even art— from a factory in Poland.

Perhaps the same factory where they make Citizen M hotels. There is no question that it is an interesting project, but after a decade of Citizen M building hotel modules in Poland, can it be called a Radical Innovation anymore?

Rooftop Hotel Gardens | Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaidullin | Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering (KSUAE) | Russia

rooftop hotel rendering

© Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaidullin via Radical Innovation

As often happens, these competitions are saved by the students, and this entry from Russia is full of incredible drawings of a rooftop hotel idea.

Axonometric of roofs

© Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaidullin via Radical Innovation

Rooftop Hotel Gardens offers a hotel concept placeable in any city that gives guests a chance to experience skyline of cities in an isolated peaceful space fully merged with an urban environment. The conceptual hotel chain provides locations on rooftops and services throughout the city. Each guest can reserve a room on the open roof of any participating building. Thanks to a network throughout the city, if guests want, they have the opportunity to change place and module during the entire period of their stay.
Bedroom view from roof

© Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaidullin via Radical Innovation

It's not dissimilar in concept from Werner Aisslinger's LoftCube of 2004, but that's OK; perhaps it is an idea whose time has come.

Axonometric of units on roof

© Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaidullin via Radical Innovation

Revo |Michał Witalis | Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow | Poland

Revo on the beach

© Michal Witalis via Radical Innovation

Same can be said for Revo, which has also been seen in various forms.

Revo by lake

© Michal Witalis via Radical Innovation

Revo is a concept of an active hotel room deployment system that acts as a global network of services for travelers. From now on you are able to book your stay anywhere around the world. The building is no longer a limitation. The cabin can be delivered to your desired spot by a local supplier from the base nearby.

It often seems that the best years for competitions are when the economy is in the tank and nobody is working, so they have time to work for nothing. Perhaps this year's Radical Innovation Award is a sign that everybody is busy.