Peace and Quiet
The Alila Jakarta, by Denton Corker Marshall Jakarta, brings a touch of the unexpected to Indonesia's capital
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 6/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
By day, Jakarta's central business district, with its seemingly ubiquitous car showrooms, is a hubbub of activity. By night, the streetscape fills with food vendors plying their trade. Hardly a neighborhood where one would expect to find a tranquil hotel. But the Alila Jakarta, built by architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall Jakarta for the Design Hotels group, triumphs over context.
"We need zones where people are free to think and enjoy the fruits of their collective modernity," says Budiman Hendropurnomo, design principal of DCM Jakarta. "What we value is peace of mind." It is precisely this concept that guided his construction of the 27-story, 273-room Alila Jakarta, a process interrupted by the political riots of the late 1990s.
What better place than a stylish hotel in the heart of Indonesia—a country poised halfway between the past and the present—to contemplate the contemporary human condition? Guests experience an enveloping sense of calm from the moment they enter the hotel's double-height lobby. "We deliberately avoided excess detailing and distractions," notes Hendropurnomo, who outfitted the public areas with minimalist, geometric furnishings and artwork. The lobby lounge features clean-lined seating, upholstered in synthetic leather and suede, and a plywood cocktail table with inset bands of aluminum. Spaces in Between, a contemporary artwork of colored wood strips by Pieter Dietmar, is installed on the wall behind. Intermittent splashes of bright hues spice up the neutral palette ever so slightly, without disturbing the peace.
In the lobby lounge, ceiling-mounted stainless-steel pendant fixtures with hairline horizontal slits cast slivers of light onto the black Indonesian granite floors. Natural light also floods through full-height windows overlooking the hotel's central courtyard, a Zen-like garden of pebbles and fragrant frangipani. (During the riots, Hendropurnomo decided to reduce the hotel's street-front glazing, and this meditative oasis also serves as a very practical solution to the dearth of windows.)
Directly across the central courtyard is the Alila's main restaurant, Buzz Wine & Dine. Here, Hendropurnomo deployed elegant, elemental furnishings such as black tables of anodized copper and steel and chairs of solid Indonesian nyatoh timber. A glazed wall, which bends up to form a 4-foot-wide skylight, provides ample illumination, supplemented by minimalist rectangular painted-steel pendants. Although the decor is pared down, the scope is ambitious. The restaurant offers three cuisines—Japanese, Chinese, and Mediterranean—accommodates up to 150 diners, and boasts seating options ranging from an open dining room to intimate garden-view areas.
The guest rooms, which range from 400 to 900 square feet, possess an Asian flair, with crimson and saffron hues (often associated with the Orient) and the earthiness of heavy cotton and nyatoh. Floorboards of dark merbau, another indigenous wood, complement wheeled nyatoh nightstands. Mounted on the wall, orange fabric-wrapped timber panels act as headboards, rising almost as high as the 10-foot ceilings. White-painted metal lamps reinforce the rigorous geometry—a final reminder, before the lights go out, that simplicity and serenity go hand in hand.