A former medieval convent transformed into a stylish hotel

The importance of details
A former medieval convent transformed into a stylish hotel

In architecture, technical and aesthetic details come together to create a synergy, which is why particular attention must always be paid to the overall effect of the various elements. As the great Charles Eames said, "The details are not the details. They make the design". 

Today, we bring you a project with a comprehensive tailor-made solution, which blends tradition and modernity to produce an outstanding result where the details make all the difference.  

"The details are not the details. They make the design". Charles Eames

We are referring to Catalonia hotel, an elegant 4-star hotel with 128 rooms in San Sebastian, northern Spain. It is located on Mount San Bartolomé, a natural viewpoint with panoramic views over La Concha beach.

A truly privileged location. 

The hotel was built on the former medieval convent of Compañía de María, which dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries. 

An old convent, refurbished and converted into a hotel... sounds good, doesn't it? 

The north facade and bell tower, the two towers and the layout of the church's central section have all been conserved from the old convent. These old parts of the original building have been listed by Urban Heritage. The main entrance to the hotel, on the other hand, is a recent construction with an ULMA ventilated facade. A stylish, modern contrast to the opposite facade. 

As it is a site of historical value, the team entrusted with drafting the special plan for building development on Cerro de San Bartolomé set out a series of parameters to be met in the refurbishment process. 

Jacinto Arqués Fusté, the architect behind the project, told us that applying these parameters has created "a building with a central section protruding over two lower side sections, creating the space for the new building. The central section corresponds to the former layout of the cross plan walls that run to the listed north facade, giving continuity to the volume of the central section. This is rounded off with a sloping roof, in contrast to the flat roof found over the side sections".

Combination of textures and colours 

ULMA panels have been used for the newly constructed facades "thanks to their functional and compositional advantages" in two different colours and textures. 

But why have each of them been used? 

White paper texture:

The two side sections were designed with a different colour, finish and arrangement that would highlight their contrast with the central volume. We chose paper texture in M05 colour, which ensured modernity and outstanding contrast with the main facade's meeting point in large-size panel format.

Striped earth tone texture:

We needed to give continuity to the central volume, defined by the layout of the cross plan walls that run to the listed north facade. The P30 tone and the horizontal striped texture, which generates horizontal lines on the panel, allowed this continuity, resembling the facade's original sandstone.

The proposed solution was presented to the City Council's technical services for approval, and they ruled that the combination of colours and textures was in line with requirements for use in the old quarter of the city. 

20 mm joints

The joints between the panels have a construction purpose, but in this case they have (also) been used with aesthetics in mind. 

20 mm-deep joints have been used to generate narrow horizontal bronze strips, breaking up the uniformity of the smooth surface. 

 "The central section runs to the north facade, which is to be restored. This facade is not a smooth surface, as we find string courses, cornices, lintels, pedestals, bell towers, pinnacles, etc. Having joints in a range of sizes, spaced at different distances, allowed us to break up the monotony of a smooth vertical face," says Arqués Fusté. 

Moreover, as Catalonia Donosti Hotel is located just a few metres from the sea, quality of materials is an aspect to be borne in mind, given that they deteriorate more quickly in saline environments. 

That is why the fixing system used for the profiles has been specifically treated for salinity, thus preventing long-term issues and ensuring the durability of the facade. 

Long live the building! 

Standout construction details

We have already said that details are important. Well, it is not only the textures, colours and 20 mm joints that have been used to give the hotel's two different volumes their personality.

Pay close attention.

"Collaboration with ULMA's technical staff in the process of designing a ventilated facade is a big help, as it ensures the viability of the solution adopted in the project". Jacinto Arqués Fusté

The side sections coated with paper texture have metal infills and metal Y-piece corners. False ceilings have also been designed with the same texture and colour as the vertical envelope, integrating lighting elements and adapting to the required design.

Windowsills, window jambs and lintels have been designed with a smooth new texture in the same P30 tone as the facade, integrating the meeting points between the windows and the facade in the noblest part of the entrance. These details have been designed specifically for the project, offering a complete solution adapted to the needs of a building with a long history. 

Speaking of history… 

Our collaboration with the architectural firm Arqués-Moliner also dates back in time. 

If you would like to know more about this or any other architectural solution, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Jacinto Arqués Fusté, who specialises in residential architecture and has extensive experience in hotel projects, had already used ULMA's ventilated facade to restore Hotel Catalonia Ramblas and Hotel Catalonia Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona.

In the words of Arqués Fusté: "Collaboration with ULMA's technical staff in the process of designing a ventilated facade is of big help, as it ensures the viability of the solution adopted in the project". 

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Ventilated facade dossier

Ventilated facade dossier