The design proposition for the Gather Hotel is focussed on universal and inclusive design, with the intention of creating socially engaging spaces for use by all types of travellers as well as the broader Launceston community. The conceptual framework driving the design places high importance on universal access, and consideration for public use.
Whilst designers ensure that public spaces are accessible for people with physical disabilities as required by law and regulation, the needs of those with non physical disabilities and impairments are rarely considered in the design of interior environments. The Gather Hotel focuses on creating engaging spaces for all members of the travelling and local community, with considerations for people with physical and mental disabilities, those with vision, hearing and speech impairments, the elderly and children.
The conceptual framework or hotel identity of the Gather Hotel, provides the city with a new accommodation facility, as well as a much needed community ‘gathering’ space, highlighting and celebrating what Launceston has to offer. The hotel hub provides a number of different spaces to the public and is designed to become a sort of ‘urban village’ within Launceston, where from visitors can then disperse out to their guest rooms which are located throughout the city. Throughout the design, social and gathering spaces are emphasised, provoking use and social activity.
Proposed spaces available to both the public and hotel guests within the hotel hub include; café, pop-up retail outlet for local designers and makers, Neil Pitts retail outlet (proposed site is currently the Neil Pitts menswear store), reception/foyer, waiting spaces, food hall and dining space, bar, stage for live music, gallery and function spaces and community areas with internet access. The Hotel Hub also offers movable sleeping pods, designed to be borrowed for people at risk of homelessness for temporary shelter, and stored within the building when not in use.
Acoustic considerations have been made at important points of communication within the hotel hub, such as the reception desk and over the eating area, via use of hanging fabric installations, which also de ne key gathering points. Key artworks and feature walls within the internal spaces across both the hub and guest rooms are by Launceston and Tasmanian artists.
Wire-frame partial wall systems within the hub are designed with the intention to provide sensory elements to the space that can cater for different user groups. Lighting can be hung to assist the vision and hearing impaired. Plant life can be incorporated to provide sensory elements such as smell. Textiles can hang to provide moments of touch and excitement for a number of user groups including children. The glass lift core sits within the central feature stair case, promoting inclusive design, and is made from recycled and locally sourced or discarded timber, which can be of varied types and sizes.
Accessibility requirements in bathrooms such as grab rails, have been designed to feel as if they are an extension of the spaces themselves; from joinery, to hand railing, and morphing into the shower seat, they are all part of the overall aesthetic of the space. ‘Gathering’ spaces within hotel guest suites are de ned via the use of raised platforms, joinery elements and large scale bespoke pendant lighting and oor decoration.
Sustainability has been considered across a number of areas of the design and hotel use, enforced by the use of a number of sustainability strategies including; material and furniture section, design solutions – social sustainability (and Burra Charter interpretation), services and equipment – design for energy ef ciency, and running the hotel – reducing waste.