Carbon positive hotel Populus unveils design ahead of 2024 launch

US: The 265-room carbon positive hotel Populus, developed by Urban Villages and managed by Aparium Hotel Group, has unveiled its interior design concept ahead of opening next summer in Denver.

Led by design firm Wildman Chalmers Design, the interiors of Populus have been aligned with the hotel’s architecture by Studio Gang. Inspired by the Aspen tree, the design incorporates biophilic features including the first floor arrival area which has been created to mimic a forest floor.

The first floor houses the lobby, an all-day bar and restaurant, and a coffee bar. A sculpture called The Resihi Tapestry hangs above the entryway and restaurant, constructed from nearly 500 sheets of Reishi – a leather-alternative engineered by MycoWorks from the root structure of mushrooms.

On the second floor (designed to represent the understory of a tree), communal spaces include a library, pantry, lounge area, bathrooms, and a variety of meeting rooms. The guest bedrooms represent the “trunk” and provide views of downtown Denver or the Rocky Mountains, with many rooms offering curved, cushioned benches in the windows to mimic hammocks.

The top floor of Populus offers a restaurant, outdoor bar, garden terrace, private dining room, and a series of suites. The design takes inspiration from treetop canopies with landscaping by Superbloom.

Colorado-based artist and environmental and wildlife activist Katherine Homes selected the artwork throughout the hotel, with custom furnishings by New York-based Fowler led by Emma and Michelle Fowler.

Heather Wildman, principal and design director of Wildman Chalmers Design, said: “We approached Populus’ design vision from an experience standpoint first – thoughtfully curating colours, textures, and shapes that not only look beautiful, but appeal to all of the senses and emotions, just as a walk through the forest would. By taking cues from nature and partnering with local artisans, we hope to create a strong connection between the design of Populus and the earth and its surroundings. The result will be a hospitality experience that’s warm, welcoming, and uniquely Colorado.”

Jon Buerge, president and partner at Urban Villages, said: “For Urban Villages, it was crucial that we pair Populus’ stunning architectural design – destined to forever change Denver’s skyline – with remarkable interior design that could seamlessly marry the building’s sculptural form with warm, welcoming interiors while extending its nature-inspired ethos. We are very proud of our commitment to make Populus the first carbon positive hotel in the country and are thrilled that the dynamic interior design and art program deeply represent this commitment to the environment and our locale, all while enhancing the guest experience.”

Populus’ embodied and operational carbon footprint is being offset through forest and agricultural collaborations that sequester more carbon than the building emits throughout its lifecycle. Over 70,000 trees have been planted so far in Gunnison County in partnership with One Tree Planted vis-a-vis the United States Forest Service.

Mario Tricoci, CEO and founder of Aparium Hotel Group, added: “Our mission at Aparium is to create distinctive hotels that embody the unique character of their destinations, and Populus is a perfect example of this. The hotel’s nature-forward design and art program bring the great outdoors directly into the thriving urban centre of Denver, offering guests and locals the best of the Mountain West in a memorable, inspiring way. Populus’ exceptional interiors, coupled with our considerate approach to programming, will ensure that it is a must-visit destination for 2024 and many years to come.”

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