Etienne Boulanger – Single Room Hotel


The Single Room Hotel is centrally located in the heart of the city. Contained within four windowless walls of exterior billboards and public advertising, it offers the modestly lavish and cozy comforts of a 2-star hotel, including electricity, heat and hot water. The exclusive lodging is within walking distance of nearly all of Berlin’s most significant tourist attractions, a hot tip for the sophisticated traveler and everyday adventurer. The hotel operates from November 2007 to March 2008. Reservations can be made through the hotel’s website. Due to international media coverage, it is fully booked for the duration of its temporary existence.
The hotel is a simple, 1-story construction of billboards. On a block where property fences and billboards are the only standing evidence of ownership and economy, the hotel blends in with its surroundings. Its facade is leased to advertising companies. Consequently, the billboards provide not only the hotel’s architectural possibility, but also its economic sustainability. With the added revenue, the hotel can offer affordable and competitive rates. Yet while the billboards serve their typical pur- pose of drawing attention to themselves, conversely, they offer an urban camouflage for the hotel and its guests to go unnoticed.

In the Single Room Hotel, Etienne Boulanger advances the ideas of a previous project, Plug-in Berlin. From 2001–2003, Boulanger immersed himself in Berlin’s urban and public architecture, investigating and inhabiting unused, discreet and obscure spaces throughout the city.
For example, he domesticated a surprisingly big crawl space behind an advertising sign in the Alexanderplatz train station. He lived in a den within the concrete foundations of Monbijou Bridge. And later, he moved into a small space behind three billboards at the corner of Kommandantenstrasse and
Alte Jakobstrasse, what would later become Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum.
The concealed spaces often required subtle modifications, such as using a cardboard wall to camouflage his infiltration. Collectively, the projects avoid making a cliché, utopian, and alternative model to urbanization. Rather, they present practical and everyday strategies for maximizing public space, and provide a way to live within and without the system. In a Single Room Hotel, Boulanger profits with a commercial twist.