Radical Innovation awards reveal cutting-edge hotel concepts

The Autonomous Travel Suite integrates transportation and hospitality through a driverless, mobile suite offering door-to-door transportation service. Photo credit: Radical Innovation (Radical Innovation)

Radical Innovation, a competition and year-round community that challenges designers, hoteliers and students to pioneer compelling ideas in travel and hospitality, has announced the finalists for its 12th annual edition. The three finalists are: Aquaponic Experience Hotel by Varinot & Varinot Architectes, Paris; Autonomous Travel Suite by Aprilli Design Studio, Los Angeles; and Le Colline Incantate by Network of Architecture, Bolzano, Italy.

Radical Innovation has launched some of the most amazing designs through its annual competition that challenges designers and the hotel industry to not only create the ultimate guest experience but to also develop progressive new ideas that will propel the hotel industry into the future, according to Forbes.
“The basic idea of this competition is to give people the opportunity to present their ideas and allow them to meet people that might be able to help them execute on it,” said Radical Innovation head John Hardy, CEO of The John Hardy Group, the hospitality development consultancy behind the annual competition. “It's not just designers that submit their projects, it's students, hotel brands, cruise ship companies, engineers and entrepreneurs and it's a complete cross-section of humanity. We work with these people all year long and for multiple years trying to help get this to market or being part of it ourselves. We're trying to change the industry for the better and not just copy everything. That's the biggest difference, and that's why it's so hard. We're trying to create entirely new segments of the hospitality industry that don't exist that benefit the consumer.”

These three firms will compete in a live pitch presentation at the New Museum in New York City in October. After presentations, a live audience will vote to determine the grand-prize winner of $10,000 and the runner-up prize of $5,000. All of the finalists will have an opportunity to meet industry experts who can help further their concept.


The Aquaponic Experience Hotel concept integrates an aquaponic system for a fully self-sufficient experience. Aquaponics is a symbiotic system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water. Inspired by this concept, Varinot & Varinot Architectes created a hotel that is designed to mirror this closed, vertical system where rainwater is continuously recycled throughout the hotel. Not only does the ecosystem reduce water consumption, but it also produces it in efficient quantities.

The sustainable hotel offers fresh fruits, fish, and vegetables in the restaurant; flowers and herbs in the bedroom; and seaweed to relax in the spa. The modular concept can be adapted to any city, depending on its individual needs and skyline restrictions.

The Autonomous Travel Suite integrates transportation and hospitality through a driverless, mobile suite offering door-to-door transportation service in between a traveler’s home and destination. Within a compact hotel room environment, the suite is equipped with basic sleeping, working and washroom functions, allowing guests to be most efficient and productive while optimizing travel time.

Operated and maintained by the Autonomous Hotel Chain, once scheduled online or via mobile app, a customized unit is delivered to the traveler’s door and taken to a local Autonomous Hotel docking facility at the traveler’s destination, where the unit extends into a larger parent suite. Acting as both a personal rental car and hotel room, The Autonomous Travel Suite provides both a new way of traveling and an extension of the conventional hotel experience, from the minute a traveler steps out of their home.

Le Colline Incantate is a retreat for single parents and their children facing a new family situation. A retreat planned for the hills of Northern Italy, Le Colline Incantate is a resort for single parents and their children. The hotel provides its guests with comfort zones and completely protected spaces and was designed with the entire structure covered with plants alongside waterways. The architects worked in conjunction with a psychologist to create therapeutic programs in an inviting destination.

Hardy told Quartz that Radical Innovation isn’t about speculative drawings or architectural fiction. “We’re always looking for a balance of radical and practical,” he said, explaining that judges select proposals that can reasonably be implemented in a three- to five-year time frame. “This is a full-on continuous process to make it happen.”

Past finalist Snoozebox, which provides sleeping quarters at festivals and concert venues, is operational. The Amsterdam-based home-office hotel Zoku, which won top prize in 2015, consistently gets great reviews from guests.

The winner of the 2018 Radical Innovation competition will be announced in October.