Folkestone Revisited: St. Eanswith’s Hotel x Cinque Centre
Architecture can’t fully represent the chaos and turmoil that are part of the human personality, but you need to put some of that turmoil into the architecture, or it isn’t real.
A few months ago I had the pleasure of staying at one of my friend’s apartments at The Grand in Folkestone. A port located on the English Channel in Kent, and a stone’s throw away from Dover, Folkestone has – rather unfortunately – lost its allure. Prior to the Second World War Folkestone was a Deauville-esque traipse-spot that saw the likes of the aristocracy (Edward VII for example) and the Kensington set regularly ‘summer’ there. Now it’s no more than a pitiful shadow of it’s former self.
Folkestone Town Centre is a heartbreaking mix of family run cafés, artisan’s stores and clothiers with the usual decrepit typical High St. fare. culminating with the opening of the Bouverie Place Shopping Centre in November 2007 bringing ‘new’ stores to Folkestone. The Town’s shops include Debenhams, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Superdrug, Next, New Look, Argos, Peacocks, Poundland, Primark, Iceland, Sports Direct, Wilkinsons, Boots, Clarks, Bonmarshe, Clinton Cards, Card Factory, EE, KFC, Burger King, Store Twenty One, Subway, H.Samuel, Savers, McDonalds and TK Maxx. This is certainly not a Who’s Who of stores intended to inject money into the city.
A lot has been spent ‘re-developing’ the town centre, yet missing the glaring fact that Folkestone is also a harbour and that is where the majority of it’s development should be focused. Walking along the wharf one is greeted with end-less car parks, loitering youth, a sketchy ‘night-club’ and old empty buildings that remind me of that other crumbling city, Gloucester. In fact, modern Folkestone reminds me of Ali-G’s parody of West Staines; but it does have the hallmarks of a once thriving luxury retreat. The old cinema has a very 1930s Casablancan feel to it, and some of the old cobbled streets remind me of Prague and Lyon.
Like Menton on the Riviera, I believe that Folkestone can be returned to its former glory and still retain a dedicated set of regular visitors from London and further north even. Following is an architectural plan for one such revitalisation. I introduce:-
St. Eanswith’s Hotel x Cinque Centre
St. Eanswith’s is a proposed luxury hotel and centre that defines itself by providing guests with an environment of creativity and collaboration. Just as ships would dock at Folkestone in order to replenish supplies, visitors will come to St. Eanswith’s to reinvigorate their bodies and minds. By weaving together luxury and creativity, St. Eanswith’s will not only act as a sphere of influence on individuals from London and across the English Channel, but it will also attract companies pursuing invention and start-ups seeking an open forum. St. Eanswith’s frees new ideas by lifting guests from a climate of confinement and by engaging the beauty of Folkestone.
St. Eanswith’s is more than a luxury hotel, it is a vibrant hub of activity for the city. The main atrium looks out to the courtyard where volleyball can be played in the summer and guests can soak up the sun on the patio. The winter season replaces the volleyball courts with an ice rink and brings joy to the December cold. This focus on activity aims to engender a connect between St. Eanswith’s Hotel and the community. For guests seeking a tranquil atmosphere, the rooftop sculpture garden provides an elegant escape.
A homage to the Confederation of Cinque Ports of the English Channel (Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich), of which Folkestone served as a support-limb, the Cinque Centre meant is to support innovation. The beautiful three-story foyer is an interplay of light and material. The tower’s structure dramatically appears to lean over the foyer while the glass ceiling frees the space with light and cool fresh air. The terraced floors of the Cinque Centre open to the foyer, connecting the spaces under the dynamic steel lamella roof.
With floor-to-ceiling windows and luxurious details, the beautiful two-story penthouse at St. Eanswith’s invites guests into a world of stunning panoramic views and exclusivity. The colour pallet of blue glass, travertine stone, and stainless steel is bathed in a soft reddish-purple accent glow that details the kitchen ceiling and windows.
Named after Christoph W.F. Hufeland and Sagen Ishizuka – the founding fathers of the Macrobiotic diet – Hufeland’s and Ishizuka’s provide the best in Franco-Japanese Macrobiotic cuisine and a marvellous private members’ club to key clients. Located on the top floor, patrons have stunning views of the English Channel, Folkestone and The Lees . The Rift Valley provided the inspiration for the undulating sculptural ceiling which calmly glows during the evening dining hours.
St. Eanswith’s creates spaces that encourage interaction and tourism. Terraced tennis courts which can be turned turf for arena polo chukkas become venues for matches and engage the community through sportsmanship and fitness. The terrace also serves as a front door to St. Eanswith’s for guests strolling along Folkestone beach.
The next post will have some architectural plans for the hotel and centre. Those will form part of my wider AASCHOOL scholarship portfolio. All 3-D work was done using Adobe. The plans themselves were drawn by hand on A3 paper, scanned and cleaned using photoshop, then further edited using AutoCAD. Obviously, all structural elevations were done in 3-D. Still, why don’t I give you a structural sneak-peak:-
Alluding to a rower’s body, the tower is supported by a powerful core, shoulders, arms, and legs. Acting together to reign in the weight, the core performs like a rower’s abdomen, stabilising the movements while the deltoids and shoulders deliver the power. The tower itself is slightly ajar to the core, creating a dynamic interaction.