Kempinski Hotel Muscat designed by Woods Bagot
Tim Griffith
Kempinski Hotel Muscat designed by Woods Bagot

Woods Bagot-designed Kempinski Hotel Muscat reflects Omani heritage and culture

Located in the Omani capital, the Woods Bagot-designed Kempinski Hotel Muscat is a contemporary reference of locally-inspired architecture, evident in its façade patterns, the positioning of its buildings, and integrated navigation cues.

The development consists of nine buildings, with spaces such as a lobby, ballroom, events centre, a residential building, kid’s club, health club and spa, as well as food and beverage outlets. Allowing for the specific buildings to reflect their own programmes and identities while still partaking in a unified built form, the development is split into components, which are defined by a series of diversified plazas and courtyards.

Inside the lobby of the hotel

With traditional Omani culture and heritage forming the narrative of the project, the hotel’s design language aims to evoke the sense of walking through an old Omani village and achieves this through the close setting of its buildings, subtle level changes across the development and its various landscape zones.

One of the most notable spaces of the resort is its lobby, flanked in glass and topped with a flat plane roof that is marked with a traditional ornamental pattern.

“Arrival at the hotel is to be a memorable experience, and this is celebrated by a distinct lobby,” said Samer Charara, principal and studio chair at Woods Bagot in Dubai. “The space is represented in a minimal way to reflect the purity of its function. The design originates from the nature of lilies in a pond, and is inspired by the Al Alam Palace – the ceremonial palace of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.”

Charara added that the flared columns in the lobby are visually held away from the ceiling, allowing the ceiling to appear as though it’s floating above as a separate element, creating a “serene environment”.

Both the lobby and the ballroom, although contemporary, are designed to link back to the resort’s context. The latter’s prominent location establishes a strong first impression, and features an architectural design inspired by the Arabic lantern. Illuminated in the evening, the ballroom reinforces the hotel as a landmark in the Al Mouj community, and Muscat city.

The exterior of the ballroom

“The architecture of the resort is contemporary with local and regional references defined by space, form, light, material and detail,” said Charara. “Its character reflects the rich heritage and traditions of the Sultanate of Oman, giving guests and visitors the ambiance of being in a Middle Eastern ‘village’.”

“The urban composition, landscaping and local materials generate the local character,” he added. “The mass of the building is split in separate volumes defining a series of diversified plazas and courtyards, different in character, use and function.”

In addition to the lobby and ballroom, local references can be gleaned from the various façade designs applied throughout the project. Inspired by surrounding landscapes, like the Muttrah Cornish, the project features a variety of geometric patterns, from the magnified triangular windows on the ballroom’s exterior to the wooden screens that filter direct sunlight for the resort’s bedrooms.

Woods Bagot worked with natural stone for the resort, including different types of marble and sandstone, as well as timber, aluminium, glass, concrete, masonry and glass fibre reinforced plastics.

Charara noted that many passive sustainable elements were incorporated into the project, including shading devices and the use of local materials where possible, while sunlight and prevailing winds informed the orientation.

“Guests arriving at the hotel will be intrigued and excited to explore the project,” he said. “The aim has been to create a long-lasting experience, offering various paths through the site and creating a sense of discovery for guests and visitors.”