When I visited the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven 20th October this year, the so-called ‘’hub’’ drew my attention. I already knew about the initiative for using vacant buildings for the less fortunate people in our society so they have at least some form of shelter. I also knew about the business purposes (think about modular hotels at airports) where businessmen have the option to spend the night there in a very compact way. It’s a growing fact that in our society we often have to travel for business meetings or other job obligations. So our ‘’free time is often in combination with scheduled meetings and therefore we also have to schedule the recreational aspects of our lives. At the Dutch Design Week the hub is described as a modular hotel cabin, which makes it a recreational object. This is in my opinion new about such portable modules.
Functional and recreational
The Hub is a modular hotel cabin used in a new hospitality concept, which also could be used in vacant buildings so traveling people, can stay there. The module has an iPad where users can stay in touch with the outside world 24/7. But my opinion is that in this world where there are offered a lot of luxury vacations with options like this iPad, people who want to travel aren’t interested in this luxury anymore. The purposes of traveling have changed, so ways of spending the night are now only practical. We are more satisfied with a ‘’wonderlust’’ vacation where we will not spend half of our vacation in some kind of resort but where we can seek for the extraordinary things a different city or country could offer us. The way of lodging somewhere definitely isn’t that important anymore. We are looking for meaningful vacations where we can escape from our daily lives: ”escapism.”
Now it gets more interesting
The way I see the Hub (as an escape from our daily lives) in combination with a meaningful vacation made me look further for modular hotels.
I found an extreme example of some kind of hub: Penda’s modular bamboo hotel; based in Vienne and Beijing, which I think is more interesting than the Hub because it is in a different setting. A serene setting, where people are able to find inner peace or experience a ‘’pure leisure’’ feeling are offered by Penda. It is minimalistic but very functional so it fulfils the basic needs someone could have to escape from all the stimuli society can’t help but offer us on a daily basis. The Hub can be replaced to different vacant buildings and in a same way Penda is made out of bamboo, which also could be replaced and re-used. Bamboo is a very stable and sustainable material, which brings the experience behind Penda to an ecological level. The designers of Penda wanted to create an experience where users are more connected to nature ‘’Free with the birds’’. In some way they want to bring us back to the origin, which also is characteristic for the wonderlust trend.
Is Penda also interesting in the near future in our Western culture?
Penda is a very creative and functional way to use what nature offers us. We definitely do want to live more ecological for the last couple of years but we also want to experience a lot of things that often are not that great for our environment. I think initiatives like penda will expand because of the fact that it’s portable, useful and meaningful. It fulfils society’s needs to contribute in creating a sustainable environment. It is only a climatically issue that in the Western culture ideas like penda will not take over the ways we spend our holidays. But if we put the Hub in Penda’s context probably we will feel more at ease with the thought of spending our free time in ways that could bring us back to the original meaning of ‘’escaping from our daily lives’’ and find feelings of pure leisure again in this always working society.
Pictures are from: Penda