This is the second in an ongoing series in which we look at how spatial design is helping the travel industry create a more socially and environmentally conscious form of tourism.

Sometimes responsible architecture is a question of time as well as space. Temporary structures can create unique hospitality experiences that exist for just a few weeks or days before – if well managed – leaving without a trace. This is the concept French hotel giant Accor is pursuing with its Flying Nest project. Based on a 12-m2 shipping container that’s entirely self-sufficient, Flying Nest can aggregate as many units as needed by the group it’s serving (or can be supported by the terrain). As it requires no external services to operate, the system requires minimal ground work and can be placed functionally anywhere, from cold to hot climates.

Devised by French designer Ora ïto, each container features a living-cum-sleeping area and private bathroom and is connected to neighbouring units by a series of terraces. Thus far, they’ve travelled to Rencontres d’Arles photography festival and the Agora biennial art festival in Bordeaux, as well as to the Avoriaz ski resort.
 Reactivating places that have since been abandoned but still retain usable infrastructure is another viable tactic. SB Architects’ Infinite Explorer concept, one of three shortlisted finalists for the 2019 Radical Innovation Awards, proposed repurposing part of America’s disused rail network to bring hospitality to some of the country’s most remote locations. A specially designed train would function as a mobile hotel, able to stop at any desired location to provide high-quality amenities in a wilderness setting, while helping to reconnect isolated communities.

Header and top: Designed by Ora Ïto for hotel giant Accor, Flying Nest is a system of 12-m2 stackable and connectable shipping containers. The mobile and self-sufficient units can be placed anywhere, and taken away without leaving a trace. Photo: Courtesy of Flying Nest | Bottom: Designed to host three to four guests, SF-SO’s fully equipped and self-sustaining hospitality units are dropped off by drones and inflated on site. Render: Courtesy of SF-SO

Transporting guests and accommodations to remote locations can carry a cost premium, of course, but this can be positive when aligned with conservation efforts. Luxury Action, a new travel venture launched by Janne Honkanen, promotes itself as the most northerly hotel in the world. The North Pole Igloos hotel consists of a series of ten glass-enclosed igloos that will be placed on the Arctic ice each April, disappearing again before the summer melt.

At a cost of €95,000 per person, it’s not a holiday feasible to many, but there could arguably be a benefit in taking some of the world’s most influential people to the heart of one of its most endangered ecosystems. Honkanen told Forbes that all of Luxury Action’s guests are concerned about the relationship between the Arctic and the climate crisis. He also called them the ‘best messengers’ to spread the word about how climate change affects people, animals and nature in the Arctic.

This series was originally featured in our May/June 2020 issue, Frame 134. Get your copy here.