Is this the most stylish hotel in the world?

Norman Foster is one of a dream team of 22 architectural 'galacticos' completing Madrid's new superhotel. By Jonathan Thompson
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The Independent Online

While Beckham, Owen and Zinedine Zidane labour on the football field, another multimillion-pound "dream team" has been assembled in Madrid to work on one of the world's most ambitious design projects - a hotel fit to suit the style and the wallets of the Real Madrid stars.

While Beckham, Owen and Zinedine Zidane labour on the football field, another multimillion-pound "dream team" has been assembled in Madrid to work on one of the world's most ambitious design projects - a hotel fit to suit the style and the wallets of the Real Madrid stars.

An elite group of 22 architectural "galacticos" - including British-based designers Lord Foster, Ron Arad, David Chipperfield, John Pawson, Kathryn Findlay and Zaha Hadid - have come together to design the groundbreaking Hotel Puerta América, being built on the outskirts of the Spanish capital.

Each of them has been given carte blanche to shape their own section of the hotel, with the 12 floors, bar, atrium - and even the car park - divided between them. The project will have cost more than £50m when it is completed in a few weeks' time. Room prices are expected to start at £250 a night.

The results of the unprecedented collaboration will range from the elegant to the outlandish. The celebrated Australian architect Marc Newson has planned a level decorated in soft-edged furniture and his trademark orange, while London-based Chipperfield has drawn up a scheme of handmade black terracotta floors combined with white marble and silk walls.

"I concentrated on the idea that the floor could become the organising element of the room, allowing us to be connected to it," said Chipperfield, who was given responsibility for the third floor.

The colourful French designer Jean Nouvel settled on "the beauty of women" as his theme for the 12th floor, while two floors below, the Japanese designer Arata Isozaki focused on "darkness". Meanwhile, on the eighth floor, the Scottish architect Kathryn Findlay has made silence and sensitivity her focal points: to help customers enjoy "a wonderful sleep and a wonderful orgasm".

Lord Foster, the creative force behind some of Europe's most noted buildings, including the new German Reichstag and the Swiss Re building in London, nicknamed "the gherkin", was responsible for the hotel's second floor.

"I don't think anybody's ever done anything like this, on this scale, before," Lord Foster said. "It's pretty adventurous. You have this whole variety of different experiences and different signatures, all in the same place."

Lord Foster said his floor, which will employ natural materials and warm creams and browns to create a sense of calm, was inspired by the late Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida. "The direction we took was calm, discreet, peaceful and very flexible: not shouting architecture," he said. "Our approach was that the hotel room should be an oasis."

The hotel, funded by Spanish hotel chain the Silken Group, will have 30 rooms on each of its 12 floors, and will cover a surface area of some 34,000 square metres. It is scheduled to be officially opened by King Juan Carlos of Spain in May.

The sixth floor is the domain of Israeli-born architect Ron Arad, who admitted the Puerta América might be considered "an exercise in name dropping" and "totally uneconomical" by some. His own design, he said, would reflect functionality.

"Hotel rooms are for sleeping, washing and obtaining information," said Arad. "They are machines for getting in and getting out of."

Arad said he had looked at exactly what an average hotel room contained before he began his work.

"I did not want to make people feel at home, because they are not at home," he said. "I put a monolithic object in the centre of the room, and that object contains everything a hotel should. It's like a reverse capsule with the room as the envelope."

The Catalan designer Javier Mariscal went even further on the 11th floor, rejecting the extravagance of his international colleagues for "normal pillows", "white towels" and "taps that run hot when you turn them to the left". "Someone had to bring down the budget," he said.

Architectural experts across Europe have reserved their judgement on the continent's latest über-hotel until its official opening. Lucy Bullivant, a leading author, critic and curator, said: "It can either be Frankenstein's monster or it'll work really well. The big thing for me would be that when you stay there you don't suffer from aesthetic overkill.

"Personally, I see no reason why this shouldn't become a cult place to stay: ultimately, hotels are supposed to be places of dreams."

Zaha Hadid CBE

Previous form: the Mind Zone at the Millennium Dome

Hotel floor: 1st

Theme: Fluid spaces

What's on it? Hadid has promised "a different architectural language", based on new digital techniques. Expect swooping structures and clean, dramatic lines.

Baron Foster of Thames Bank

Previous form: Swiss Re (London); Stansted airport

Hotel floor: 2nd

Theme: Urban sanctuary

What's on it? Lots of timber and natural materials. Circular, top-lit glass drums lining the corridor. Leather wall panels. Washbasins on onyx shelves.

David Chipperfield

Previous form: River and Rowing Museum (London)

Hotel floor: 3rd

Theme: Minimalism with luxury

What's on it? Black terracotta flooring. Luxuriant bedding and upholstery. White marble walls complemented by wild silk with gold tones.

Professor Ron Arad

Previous form: Belgo restaurants (London)

Hotel Floor: 6th

Theme: A different way of organising space

What's on it? Circular beds. Double-sided flat screen televisions, so people outside can see what guests are watching.

Jean Nouvel

Previous form: Lyon Opera House; Dentsu Tower (Tokyo)

Hotel floor: 12th (and façade)

Theme: The beauty of women

What's on it? The prestigious penthouse suites: the jewels in the hotel's crown. Photographs by Japanese artist Araki, who specialises in large-scale female nudes.