First opened in 1966, this Dacca InterContinental became the only international branded hotel in the region and it’s played a big part in Bangladesh’s history ever since. Now reborn with a new name and a radical make-over, the InterContinental Hotel Dhaka, is once again at the heart of city life.

Under the ownership of the Bangladesh government, the original striking modernist building has been retained and upgraded over a five-year period with the Sydney-based studio CHADA leading the interior design.

The scope of work was challenging and extensive with the design team having to peel back multiple renovations to discover the original bones of the building. Old black and white photographs of political and society events at the hotel highlighted some important architectural features, including the hotel’s once grand Porte Cochere, which the team was then able to re-create.

“We completely stripped it out and started from scratch including all the back of house, plant and equipment so we had a rare opportunity to master plan every corner of the hotel,” says CHADA partner and Project Director, Rick Whalley.

The building is complex, with the original 10-storey modernist structure and a six storey 1980’s extension. The job of improving the marriage of the two buildings fell to architects LW Design and Dubai-based Depa Interiors which manufactured and prefabricated every item for the interiors.

The new black and white marble lobby has three cream padded leather reception desks, flanked by the lobby lounge on one side and the concierge lounge on the other. Beautiful hand-made rugs inspired by local fabrics add swirls of colour and brass decorative screens define lobby seating zones.

One of the design team’s first planning decisions was to return the hotel’s lobby to its original 1960’s location. The existing atrium lobby was converted into a unique patisserie with an impressive central five-metre-high tea tower over which hangs a large chandelier crafted from porcelain tea plates. A domed stained-glass ceiling that once dominated the space was converted to more elegant white glass. This became the centre point for a new food and beverage precinct.

Of the expansive meeting and function areas Rick Whalley comments, “It’s very unusual for a hotel to have so many function and meeting areas on such a grand scale.”

With such grand event spaces, perhaps it’s no surprise that momentous events in the country’s history took place there. The original wing housed three spacious ballrooms, and in one of these the historic signing of Bangladesh’s independence took place in 1971.

“The owners wanted opulent and decorative interiors in a more traditional luxe style to make it the premier location for all the major events,” says Rick Whalley. In response, CHADA designed a grand polished brass staircase which takes guests to the hotel’s boardroom.

Fundamental changes included enlarging the guestrooms to meet IHG standards and to get rid of the black box bathrooms by adding glass walls. CHADA’s layouts zoned the room into three areas defined by floor and wall finishes for sleeping, working and relaxation. A feature headboard in a cream quilted leather, fabric wallcovering and dark stained timber joinery and furniture, complete the classic luxe style.

The hotels recreational facilities were also rebuilt and upgraded including a new roof deck swimming pool, pool lounge bar, spa and wellness areas with a gymnasium overlooking the pool.

It was a marathon project for CHADA but the respected studio has transformed this faded landmark to reign again as Dhaka’s most desirable destination, prompting one travel writer to describe it as a beautifully crafted oasis of deluxe luxury.

Project: InterContinental Hotel
Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Design Studio: CHADA
Photo Credits: Images courtesy of Intercontinental Dhaka