Minimalist lido and surf shack open a stone’s throw from London
Birch Hotel promotes next-gen escapes to the English countryside with a design by the Red Deer architectural collective – and now the retreat comes with a new minimalist lido and a poolside bar
âBirch looks like a hotel but looks like a festival,â says Creative Escape’s new website, and in designing it, the Red Deer architectural collective placed this slogan at the heart of their approach. Soft opening during the pandemic and launching this month of its brand new blue-green minimalist lido-style poolside bar and surf shack, Birth is a hospitality offering centered on a sense of retreat and community, and a holistic environment that offers calm and flexibility, just a stone’s throw from London.
“ We tried to approach the idea of ââa hotel in a different way, more like a start-up, and not like a typical grade II listed heritage hotel, where you focus on updating the finishes. Instead, we were okay with seeing a little bit of rot and wear and tear, there’s a really nice contrast between the old and new things you put in these heritage spaces, ” says the Red Deer co-founder, CiarÃ¡n. O’Brien.
The architectural team, led by co-founders O’Brien, Lionel Real de AzÃºa and Lucas Che Tizard, examined what the site – a Georgian, Grade II * listed mansion and estate in Hertfordshire, a short distance away drive from London – was an inspiration. . Working with the bones of the building and working with Birch founders Chris King and Chris Penn, they turned it into a “ next-gen escape, ” consisting of the main building and a selection of different structures and areas around him – a family, part of which is the sparkling new lido.
Photography: Lesley Lau
âWe approached the lido the same way we approached everything else at Birch; waste and consistency challenge. We discovered that there must be a hidden ice rink somewhere on the grounds but we couldn’t find it, so we designed the lido as if we had discovered it as archeology in the ground. We wanted to rethink everything, we didn’t want to make a pool that looks like a pool. Instead, it’s low and full of pastel colors that we find in nature, âsays O’Brien.
The soothing and minimalist lido environment reflects the serene atmosphere privileged in the rooms, where the absence of television and the clutter guarantee a restful stay. âIn the bedrooms, we wanted to provide space and room to breathe. There are no dominant televisions or wardrobes in the Birch rooms, just a few simple gestures: a big bed, colors on the walls, and then we focused on deconstructing a series of valets because it is a standard item that you immediately use when entering a hotel room, âadds O’Brien. “ We have collaborated with local designer Jan Hendzel Studio, ceramicist Emma Louise Payne, designer Charlotte Kidger and metallurgy Lucie Naujalis on the stands and they give each piece a sculptural focal point. ”
The interior is populated with a few carefully selected items and furnishings, from contemporary crafts to vintage finds and 20th century modern pieces. For example, Payne created bespoke handmade details, like a range of porcelain enamel pendants, for the project. Birch and its new minimalist lido are designed to combine well-being, craftsmanship, design and a sense of relaxation dominating through architecture and nature. âThe place is bright and informal. there is room to grow, âconcludes O’Brien. Â§