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Airport Hotel, Munich, Germany

After a comprehensive remodeling process, a view of the Zugspitze now adorns the conference area of the Hilton Airport Hotel in Munich. The special touch: the photo has been immortalized in concrete.

Guests at an airport hotel are often just travelling through, they are tired and pay their surroundings little attention. At moments like this, a warm atmosphere can make all the difference. This requirement was on the mind of the architect, Claudia Schmitt-Rider of the Munich office Gumpp Heigl Schmitt, during the refurbishment and extension of the Hilton Airport Hotel in Munich. The establishment’s capacity was increased almost three-fold by the remodeling. 

The conference area was also modernized and enlarged, eight new seminar room have been added to the existing five. Schmitt-Rider opted for a consistent design concept in the Hotel and in the conference area, whose focus was upon the region: "The project was in the context of a Mountain Hub, which also continued into the new-build area. On the one hand, it sets itself in the context of the airport hotel and on the other, its position in Bavaria.” The color scheme was therefore kept at blue and white, the interior design accompanied by the wooden flooring and exposed concrete. 

In the reception of the conference wing, a white counter sits enthroned, resembling in color and form a glacier tongue. Behind it, a very particular mural draws the attention: a picture of the Wetterstein Mountains and the Zugspitze – not framed, instead as a relief on the exposed concrete wall. "The concrete relief is an invitation to the start of the reconstruction and the first point of contact”, says Schmitt-Rider. From the different rises and falls, a three-dimensional effect is created in the concrete. Changing light conditions allow the image to distinguish itself more clearly.

In order to achieve the desired effect, photo-engraving matrices by RECKLI were employed during the fabrication of the concrete panels. Production of the wall unit was in the care of the Bachl precast factory, the cement being supplied by Heidelberg Cement. For the architect Schmitt-Rider, this was her first time using elastic formliners in the creation of concrete surfacing. Usually RECKLI formliners are used for outer walls, yet photo-engraving matrices are also suitable for interiors – just like RECKLI’s artico neo line, which was developed exclusively for interiors.

The application as a concrete relief is a modern interpretation of the traditional alpine panorama. To bring the photo onto the wall, it had to transferred into a relief for the formwork insert. Therefore, the image was transformed on a computer into a file with 256 shades of gray, which can be read by the CNC mill. Using this data, the CNC machine milled differently deep and wide grooves onto a board material. This served as a master mold for the making of the formliner. By using sample casts with differing relief depths and comparing them in the light conditions on-site, the team decided on the suitable depths for the relief.

The completed mural has a size of 2.5 by 6 meters and is divided into three panels. With their long experience in the production of structural concrete for façades, the precast factory Bachl dealt magnificently with the creation of this unique specimen. Altogether, the three concrete parts weigh five tons and are held by a steel construction.  "Installation went extremely professionally. Logistically, the team building steel structure for the frame and the precast experts worked well together”, says Schmitt-Rider.

A logistics team specialized in moving artwork transported the mural from the precast factory to the hotel where it was hoisted to the wall by means of a specialized crane. "The hotel supported us during the refurbishment and worked well with the restricted access to the entrance area. The installation lasted only a few days, as everything had been planned in advance”, says to the architect. Since the opening of the modernized  conference area, the relief has given guests a reason to stop and marvel once they realize that the extraordinary image arises from the interaction of light and shadow.

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