A pop-up art hotel with a social conscience takes over an abandoned civic office building

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Mottainai: Japanese word used to express a feeling of regret when something is wasted without gaining its value.

Canberra’s hotel scene is about to get really innovative and extremely cool as the Mottainai Hotel opens its doors next week.

Ditching the idea of ​​a generic room layout, the hotel offers a single suite, built in an abandoned office building in the center of Civic and exposing guests to an immersive art experience with an adjoining art gallery next door. While the gallery will be a commercial operation, profits generated from hotel fees will be donated to YWCA Canberra to help tackle homelessness in Canberra.

The hotel will provide commentary on finding shelter in abandoned spaces, repurposing and repurposing furniture, and showcasing the work of local artists after the rigors of the pandemic.

The Mottainai Hotel is the brainchild of husband and wife team Ronan and Clare Moss. Ronan is the director of Cox Architecture, while Clare is a former actor and theater professional who now works with The Smith Family.

“It’s absolutely a passion project,” says Clare, noting that the whole concept was made possible thanks to the generosity of everyone from property developer HTI, who gave the couple access to the space of the second floor for the next six months before the building is demolished, at Shape commercial fit outs, Stylecraft, Ronbo Glass and Lightbulb Studio, among others.

Besides the brand new bed, bedding and towels, the living room, kitchen and bedroom are furnished with repurposed materials, second hand, donated and recycled furniture.

“The concept draws attention to empty space in a time of homelessness and escalating property prices, recycling in a time of excess, art in a time of disconnection and is fueled through the power of community mobilization,” according to Clare.

The most striking part of staying at the hotel is the art exposure, from the 360-degree street art foyer to the graffitied bathroom, to the canvas, photographic, sculptural and lightbox installations. distributed in the living spaces. Every corner of the large space is neatly curated, making it difficult to even focus on the 180-degree views of Civic and ANU offered through the windows.

But the most unique artistic experience of a night at Hotel Mottainai is the large interior windows connecting the hotel suite to a shopping gallery, dramatically projecting huge video screens that can be viewed from the bed .

The exhibiting artists will alternate throughout the project, exploring various mediums, forms, influences and social issues.

Rooms also feature carefully selected artwork from local artists and designers that can be purchased.

The Mottainai Hotel will open with exhibiting artists Alex James and Ronan Moss and supporting artists Jared Haydon, Ben McDonald, Ben Weiss and Matt Arnott.

Clare and Ronan hope the commissions from art sales will help the Mottenai Hotel continue its work raising funds and raising awareness about homelessness.

When the pop-up hotel has to vacate its London Circuit space, the couple hope to replicate the experience in another disused office space.

“Art, experience and cause are inextricably linked,” Clare said. “We hope that the Mottainai Hotel can reappear in another location once this building is demolished. We want to keep pushing the boundaries of experience and fundraising for the YWCA.

While it had been difficult to create rooms in a disused office space, Clare and Ronan said the transformative experience had been more than they could have expected. Sunlight floods the space and there’s even an easel set up in the corner for anyone who’s suddenly gripped by their own artistic inclinations.

Clare and Ronan were also surprised by the level of community support for their idea to give back and promote greater awareness of the impact of homelessness.

“All of our people have engaged in a cyclical economy, a barter system or made pro bono contributions. These individuals and organizations have generously donated their time, skills and materials, united by a common cause and motivated to drive community mobilization among other contributors,” said Ronan.

Hotel Mottainai will operate through Airbnb and can be booked here for around $170 a night.

It is located at 13 London Circuit, Civic and its website is hotelmottainai.com.au.

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