“You don’t need a lobby when the city itself becomes the hotel.”
— Marthijn Pool, co-founder Space&Matter

A journey through time

In the wake of the financial crisis, we looked for opportunities to blow new life into abandoned structures. Where many focused on transforming large unoccupied office buildings, we instead saw potential in Amsterdam’s iconic bridge houses. 

For over 100 years the bridge houses accommodated the city's many bridge keepers who were responsible for opening the bridges for passing water traffic. Since the centralisation of Amsterdam’s bridge control system, the 28 houses had fallen into disuse. We realised that there was a unique opportunity to create a special new hotel concept, with hotel rooms scattered throughout the city. 

In order to fully develop the hotel concept, we sought out a collaboration with the founders of the Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy, Suzanne Oxenaar and Otto Nan (currently known as Seven New Things) and the developer Grayfield.

“With building dates between 1673 and 2009, the bridge houses carry an extensive history. Visiting them in chronological order is like a journey through time: their various architectural styles reveal how the city developed and grew."
— Tjeerd Haccou, co-founder Space&Matter

The city as a hotel

In SWEETS hotel, each bridge house is a unique hotel room, while the canals are the connecting corridors and the hotel is the city itself. Since the hotel has no central facilities, neighbourhood amenities serve as the lobby, breakfast café or restaurant. Guests can use the electronic tablet in each bridge house as a guide to the neighbourhood and discover different aspects of Amsterdam, mostly outside the crowded city centre. 

All the houses are sleek and functional yet reflective of the architectural style of the exterior, varying in size from 12 to 70 m2. As such, each house carried specific design challenges. For instance, some were almost too small or too angular to place a double bed. Nevertheless, we always found a solution and could contain a bathroom, toilet and comfortable place to sleep.

“SWEETS hotel aims to stimulate local businesses in many different areas of the city and make tourism a sustainable resource.”
— Marthijn Pool, co-founder Space&Matter

Visual identity

In addition to the concept and the interior, we also designed the corporate identity, merchandise (including shampoo, hand soap, tricycle, clothes, umbrella and monument signs) and (parts of) the SWEETS hotel website. In all the branding and communication, the iconic bridge houses take centre stage.

“This project is a fantastic initiative and collaboration between the city, the designer and the developer.”
— Jury Dezeen Awards