Converting railway stations into hotels lifestyle
Renovating buildings and old railway stations has become one of the most effective ways we can achieve the EU’s zero emissions target for 2050 and promote safer and more sustainable tourism.
Renovating buildings is now a priority for the EU, which is focusing a large proportion of its economic recovery on three key lines: assist member states’ recovery through rural development and territorial cohesion programmes, support private investment with the InvestEU programme, and encourage research, innovation and external action with climate-friendly solutions.
All these proposals have one thing in common – sustainability – the most commonly supported requirement among the EU’s 27 member states and the central tenet of the European Green Deal. This roadmap seeks to promote a sustainable economy based on three core areas: using natural resources efficiently, restoring biodiversity and reducing pollution.
The aim is to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050 through further development of technological innovation, the promotion of clean energy (decarbonising industry) and the improvement of energy efficiency in buildings and facilities.
According to the latest study published by the EU, 75% of the EU’s building stock is inefficient in terms of energy, which in turn increases levels of energy loss and greenhouse gas emissions. Given that buildings account for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption, the European Green Deal is thinking about how buildings and homes could be given a new lease of life with longer lasting, sustainable materials. The aim is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5% and improve the building stock with buildings that can achieve close to zero energy consumption.
The hotel sector is also following the guidelines in a bid to meet the needs of tourism today. The Covid-19 health crisis has kicked off a shift in customer trends: people are now looking for safer, more hygienic accommodation, with a personalised experience based on their tastes and needs. This is where converting old facilities and farmhouses comes in, with growth rural tourism: 70% of customers are opting for this type of getaway, with August being the favourite month to travel (26%). This was clear in the latest report published by Escapadarural.com, with Asturias (20%), Andalusia (14%), Catalonia (11%), Cantabria (9%) and Aragon (8%) being the favourite destinations among those surveyed.
Next stop: your room
Canfranc International Railway Station (Huesca) is nestled in the Aragonese Pyrenees in Spain. Bordering with France, this 1928 construction – inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII – united the country with Spain, and in World War II housed up to 86 tons of gold from Nazi troops.
The trains stopped in 1970 when a collapse led to the abandonment of the station, but now the station is to be brought back to life, being converted into a luxury hotel complex. This is the vision of architect Joaquín Magrazó, who is working on converting the station into a hotel, retaining original features such as the façade and atrium.
The works began in 2018, and the first stage (construction of the new station) is set for completion in September, aiming to restore the modernist aesthetic of the building whilst improving energy efficiency and soundproofing insulation.
The hotel will have 100 rooms, two function rooms with views of the Candanchú slopes, a library, swimming pool, gym and two-storey restaurant.
Other stations that have been converted into hotels include Almonaster la Real (Huelva), a complex of two rural houses on the Zafra-Huelva line; Coripe station (Seville), a six-bedroom guesthouse perfect for palaeontology lovers; and L’Hotel L’estació in Bocairent, a 13-room hotel located in an old station on the Alcoy-Villena-Yecla line.
An underground museum
A protagonist in the history of Madrid and the world of Spanish cinema – it being the setting for the film “Barrio” by Fernando León de Aranoa – the former Chamberí station is one of Spain’s first underground museums, showing the history and evolution of the first Metro line in Madrid. Part of the ‘Andén Cero’ (Platform Zero) network, this stop transports visitors to 50s and 60s Madrid, with posters, advertisements and tiles dating back to that era.
Barcelona has also decided to give a new lease of life to its Foc Cisell metro stop. Renovated by Toyoo Ito, winner of the 2013 Pritzker Prize, the space has been redesigned as an art gallery, with historic photography taken of the station between 1890 and 2009 hanging on its walls.
Green lungs in city centres
The first phase of New York’s High Line Elevated Park, one of the city’s green lungs, opened in 2009. Built high on an old railway line, this 2.3km suspended park starts out in Gansevoort Street and goes to 34th Street. Designed by studios Diller Scofidio + Renflo and James Corner Field Operations, the walkway is home to spaces for outdoor sports, art and leisure.
The philosophy is shared by Soradofarm, a green movement that has emerged in Tokyo (Japan) that seeks to convert railway stations into urban orchards. Launched by Japan’s East Railway Company and entertainment company Ekipura, the project has already converted thirteen train stations into community gardens, and promotes the sustainable design of public spaces through renting orchards and plots.
Architecture04·02·2020The growth of cities has led us to incorporate ever more sustainable and eco-efficient materials into these buildings. The installation of solar panels, self-generating energy systems, and laminated wood structures are just some of the latest trends in modern architecture.