Even with a prime location on fabled Copacabana Beach, this hotel project had to overcome a compact site to be commercially viable.
While the site had compelling ingredients for a high-end hotel—including unimpeded views of Copacabana Beach and an historic promenade—seasoned hotel operators had thought it non-viable. The main issue was a restrictive footprint, which challenged the creation of a successful hospitality venue alongside an exclusive guest experience. Commercial success hinged on resolving this ground-floor planning.
We found a solution by defining separate entrances for hotel guests and restaurant visitors. Guests are provided with exclusive reception and hospitality areas, and internal access to the public bar and restaurant. With apartment buildings abutting or overlooking on three sides, it was also important to create transformational spaces for the ground floor. We carved out two courtyards to bring in natural light and covered them with double-height green walls. Opaque glass skylights ensure privacy from neighboring apartments and native flora brings the ‘jungle’ back to the city, injecting color, texture, and spectacle.
Rio’s dense and intricate urbanism has a cacophony of rhythms, patterns, and proportions, something we chose to neutralize in the hotel’s façade to create a moment of pause and tranquility. The moveable, sculptural façade is operated by guests inside their suite. These floor-to-ceiling perforated screens serve to filter sunlight without compromising ventilation and views of the coast. This lively, ever-changing wall reimagines the classic cobogó—an open ceramic block and feature of mid-century Brazilian architecture.
On the uppermost level, a sun deck, swimming pool, and café afford the widest perspective of the Atlantic Ocean, mountains, and jungle. The glass-edged pool appears to merge with the sea to create a surreal feeling of floating between sea and sky. A glowing beacon of light at night, the pool signals the location of the Emiliano, a timeless design responsive to culture and context.