» Touted as one of the 'it' projects of 2005, owing to its exorbitant price tag and cadre of 19 notable designers, the 342-room, 12-story Hotel Puerta America on the outskirts of Madrid simultaneously enthralls and confuses. The project concept was 'to create a hotel that was unique, merging different ways of seeing architecture, design, and art.' And in that sense, Hotel Puerta is a success, creating an eclectic sensory experience both calming and disruptive as guests move between spaces and styles. The work of the architects, designers, and landscape architects involved in the project follows either a luxurious modern aesthetic or a hi-tech futuristic design typology. In contrast, the lighting for these diverse spaces was the charge of a single firm, London-based Isometrix Lighting + Design, which had the monumental task of coordinating the building's lighting scheme, while supporting the design concept of each architect and designer, a feat recognized and applauded by this year's Design Awards jury.

The lighting scheme responds individually to each space-from the restaurant's custom pendants to cold cathode in the fourth-floor corridor to the LED installations used by several of the architects-with an attention to detail and fluid incorporation within the architecture that display two of the few, if only, constants in the building. As explained in the entry submission, 'The demand for cohesion from the lighting meant that the strictest observance to subtly integrated details, color temperature consistency, and practical operation had to be given to ensure that each space, each concept had a singular clarity, but one that formed part of an integrated whole.' Isometrix's solutions concealed light sources wherever possible, and with few exceptions-the 12th-floor suites designed by architect Jean Nouvel, and the lobby bar by Marc Newson-refrained from colored lighting in order to bring the diverse material palette to the fore.

Throughout the project, Isometrix relied on two core lighting approaches: indirect coves and lighting within furniture elements. To provide a color rendering supportive of the warm ambience associated with hotel environments, the guestrooms and suites rely on either xenon, tungsten halogen, or a combination of both sources for their illumination. The rooms are also outfitted with a four-scene lighting control panel that allows guests to control the effects in their rooms. The integration of architectural form and light is apparent in the floors designed by Kathryn Findlay, Norman Foster, and Plasma Studio. It is also present in the spaces by Zaha Hadid and Ron Arad, who used a material produced by LG Electronics called Hi-Macs, a ductile Corian and fiberboard composite that allows fluid planar surfaces, creating illuminated furniture pieces that amorphously emerge from the walls.

There is no doubt about the expert execution of these diverse spaces, and it is clear that the lighting design does more than simply illuminate. In what might otherwise be a dizzying array of elements, the lighting design for Hotel Puerta emerges as a sophisticated and unifying response. A|L

How one lighting designer could work with a diverse field of architects and capture the essence of each design is truly remarkable. ••• The range and versatility of the lighting is amazing. ••• It's pretty impressive that one designer did all that-talk about showing your range! ••• Spectacular and bold. ••• It's an amazing accomplishment to be able to adapt ones approach in such a way. ••• Look at how the lighting designer matches each of the styles; the lighting works in every one of them, supporting what's going on.

Project Location Madrid
Architects/Designers Teresa Sapey, parking lot; BB UK, landscape and public realm; John Pawson, lobby, conference rooms, mezzanine; Christian Liaigre, restaurant and breakfast room; Marc Newson, lobby bar and Floor 6; Zaha Hadid, Floor 1; Norman Foster, Floor 2; David Chipperfield, Floor 3; Plasma Studio, Floor 4; Victorio & Lucchino, Floor 5; Ron Arad, Floor 7; Kathryn Findlay and Jason Bruges, Floor 8; Richard Gluckman, Floor 9; Arata Isozaki, Floor 10; Estudio Mariscal, Floor 11; Jean Nouvel, Floor 12, penthouse, fa?ade
Lighting Designer Isometrix Lighting + Design, London
Photographer Rafael Vargas, Barcelona
Project Size 340,000 square feet (approx.)
Watts per Square Foot N/A
Costs $5 million (lighting, unconfirmed purchase price only); $96 million (overall construction, approx.)
Manufacturers Agabekov (xenon lighting); Ardee Lighting (xenon systems); Ardiss Lighting (compact profile projectors); Artemide (downlights, table and freestanding luminaires); Belfer (curtain-wash systems); Clay Paky (display projectors); Cube Lighting (custom downlights); Encapsulite International (IP68 fluorescent luminaires); Fontana Arte (decorative lamps, pendants, custom fixtures); iGuzzini (fluorescent uplighters, exterior projectors); LightGraphix (xenon luminaires); Light Corporation (miniature spotlights, recessed wall luminaires); Louis Poulsen (table and free-standing luminaires); Lucent Lighting (downlights); Lucifer Lighting (downlights); Modular Lighting (gimbals, downlights); Oldham Lighting (cold cathode); Osram (Linearlight Flex LED tape, Linestra lamps); Wever & Ducr? (custom luminaires); We-Ef (buried uplights)