International lighting design practice Nulty has delivered the lighting scheme for 25hours Hotel One Central, the German hospitality group’s first hotel outside of Europe. Nulty worked in close partnership with global architecture and interiors studio Woods Bagot to realise the brand’s goal of marrying its democratic design spirit with a desire to root the hotel in its locality. As every space is an exercise in creative storytelling, lighting design serves to reinforce each narrative and reveal the playful design sensibility that runs through each exterior and interior scheme. The lighting design intent for the exterior of the hotel was to enhance the theatricality of the façade and surroundings. Uplights graze the patterned walls between each window to create a rhythmic play of light across the expanse of the building. An illuminated pathway of recessed in-ground lights adds drama to the entranceway and is framed by highlights to planters.

Inside the hotel’s vast lobby, light serves to immerse guests in their surroundings and emphasise several brilliantly realised artistic features. Dominating the space is an imposing 26-metre painted ceiling entitled Under the Same Sky, which depicts key constellations and Dubai landmarks. Here, the team washed the ceiling with indirect light from the perimeter to frame the scene and provide a balanced level of ambient light throughout the atrium. Minimalist downlights were then carefully integrated into the design to supplement light levels with minimal impact on the artwork itself. Elsewhere in the lobby at the Fountain of Tales – a tiered seating and bookcase area – integrated joinery lighting contributes to the cosy intimacy of the space and forms interesting visual effects at the top of the installation where the fountain meets a vibrant rotating globe.

Across all of the hotel’s 434 guest rooms and suites, layers of light were used to emphasise the rich tapestry of materials and finishes in each scheme. As each of the guest rooms and suites reflects a different creative theme – Bedouin, Glamping, Farmstay, Artist Village and Hakawati – the team used surface-mounted spotlights and discreet downlights to provide a base layer of ambient light, then added an eclectic mix of reading lights, desk lamps and pendants to add depth and character. Upstairs in the sixth-floor Monkey Bar, lighting is deliberately subdued to bring a jungle-inspired design aesthetic to life. Decorative pendants suspended amongst planters across the ceiling lend intensity to the space and are complemented by low-level lighting in the form of wall and floor lamps.

The showpiece bar features joinery lighting around feature display areas and a line of illumination under the countertop to pick out the green geometric tiles beneath. Overlooking the entire scene, a large monkey wall installation behind the bar has been given an added touch of mystery through its all-seeing, illuminated orange eyes. In the outside terrace bar, the team used integrated bench lighting in each of the caged seating areas and concealed lighting in planting to enhance the theatricality of the experience. The rooftop pool was given a cooler colour temperature to offset the warmth of the bar.

Ahmed Saliem, projects director for Nulty comments: “25hours Hotel One Central was a one-of-a-kind project where we had the opportunity to work with a visionary team who were prepared to break from tradition. They’ve turned hospitality design on its head to create something edgy and colourful, which exudes originality. We’re proud to have helped bring such a unique space to life with our lighting design concept.”