The Humboldt

A combination of new design and original decorative elements.

PLACE    Quito, Ecuador

DATE    2016 – In Progress

CLIENT   Hoteles Historicos Hotelsud S.A.


DEVELOPER Semaica Grupo Empresarial

The Hotel Humboldt is a journey into the history of the city of Quito, the symbol of an era, is the trait of an identity, is the gateway to discovering a country, its history and culture and its extraordinary nature.

It was originally born as one of the most prestigious luxury hotels in the capital, a center of attraction and concentration of foreign citizens, politicians, personalities and exponents of the high society, also testifying the birth of key industries in the country, such as tourism. Later the building became the headquarters of “La Previsora” bank, intended to host various commercial and administrative functions.

The large and elegant entrance hall is the image of a season of splendor, theater of a dynamic world of progress, emblem of the thrust towards modernity and internationality that the city lived in the first decades of the 20th century. 

Its relationship with a larger urban plan that embraced the entire area adds relevance to an already valuable architecture, both as a historical evidence, for being the first skyscraper and the tallest building in the city, and as a model of modernist style enriched by the accents of the strong local culture.

The restoration project of the building starts with the evaluation of its fascinating past and the voice of its presence into the urban fabric of Quito, aiming to become again a reference for tourism and cultural exchange and the starting point for exploring the amazing wonders of the country.

The Hotel Humboldt’s building is certainly one of the most significant examples of the art deco style of the city of Quito. Built between 1930 and 35 by American architects Hopkins and Dentz, it had a great impact imposing a modern image in the urban area of the historic center.

Its façade expresses the modern language in decorative simplicity, in geometric shapes as well as accurate details of carpentry and finishes.

The large triple height hall, emblem of the old Bank La Previsora, shows the quality of the construction and its marks; the grooved pylons, the elements of the mural painting and the exterior treatment of the galleries with metal enclosures, are added to the elegant manufacturing of the large entrance door to the commercial gallery and the hotel check in. The building in its original image sums up the expressive Art Deco codes, being one of the few examples of this style in the city.

The building is located in the Guayaquil street, corner with “Pasaje Espejo”, opposite “Plaza chica” in the Historical Center of Quito, Ecuador. It was inserted in the urban fabric harmonizing with the environment to be part of a single plan according to municipal regulations.  The four corners of the intersection of old streets are morphologically solved through chamfers that generate greater opening between nodes, so the building shows on the street a lower and chamfered side of the construction.

Despite the eclecticism of its formal and stylistic influences, art deco has its own clear identity, is faithful to its time, elegant, functional and modern, succeeding in generating a new repertoire of shapes according to the themes and images of the era.

A strong geometry and symmetry of the design synthesizes the shapes in ascending characters, while the decorations are stylized in symbolic motifs, using a composition of segments and trapezoid, zigzag and faceted lines.

In the art deco graphic, the natural environment is punctually transposed into abstractions, reproducing patterns that refer to natural phenomena, irradiating light rays, water fluids, wavy clouds, as well as motifs with representations of plants and animals. As for the same trend in Europe, there is an interest in new archaeological finds, so in South America design is inspired by decorative elements of pre-Hispanic culture, Aztec, Maya and Inca.

The art deco style features the use of new materials such as bakelite, lacquer, chrome-plated metals, shark and turtle skin matched with precious material as marble and noble woods such as ebony and rosewood, defining the perception of luxury through the quality of the upholsteries and finishings.

At the Hotel Humboldt you can still appreciate the great artisan quality of the large entrance gate in bronze color; also marble surfaces and metallic enclosures characterize the lobby.

With the aim of preserving the stylistic value and respecting the originality of the work, we are defining a language able to describe the charm and the atmosphere of the palace at its heyday.

By the combination of new design and original decorative elements and through a contemporary elaboration of characters from the 30s, we want to set a dialogue that emphasize the elegance of the authentic parts, highlighting their historical and stylistic importance.

At the same time, we intend the design to give the look of a contemporary and innovative setting, planning a dynamic space that can meet all the modern comforts, in terms of technologies and in terms of luxury standards.

Under a conceptual profile, we want to assimilate and retrace the contents of the ‘art deco’ trend: the will of modernization and progress, the attention to the natural and archaeological world, together with the cosmopolitan aptitude and the vocation to the luxury world.

The use of decorative fabrics and revisited patterns and motifs, will provide a graphic and visual quote to art deco. Also introducing in key spots a careful selection of original antiques will give an image of great value and high refinement to the Hotel.                                  

The ambience wants to be clear and sophisticated, finishing details and lighting design will render the environment captivating and cozy at the same time, maintaining a common thread in each ambient but tailoring different configurations according to specific functions and areas.

The project is composed by 2 independent buildings, the main tower and the new building, complementary to each other and connected through a big green space, called “Jardin de Oriente” evoking the Amazonian region of Ecuador. The main tower, original construction of the 30s’, will host the great Hall and the Restaurant on the ground floor, conference rooms and additional services on the two mezzanines, six levels of rooms in three different categories, one executive lounge on the last floor, one rooftop bar, and a SPA on the basement. The new building is planned to have a contemporary architecture that differs from the original building, but using same materials and proportions. It will host 3 levels of rooms and the hotel management spaces. The whole ground floor will be destined to the development of a commercial area surrounded by green spaces intended for recreational use. This are as direct access from the internial pedestrian passage.

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