Redevelopment begins in Prora, Germany
In 2004 Atelier Kempe Thill won an international competition for the remodelling of a part of the former Nazi Seaside Resort in Prora / Germany into the biggest youth hostel of Germany. In 2007 the office received the planning commission. On 11.07.2009 the official building process started. The opening of the youth hostel is expected for spring 2011.
The “Kraft durch Freude” Seaside Resort was erected in the 1930s as a component of Nazi propaganda. Used as an army barracks after World War II, the buildings have been empty for the last 20 years.
The 4.5 kilometer ensemble is rather untypical of the architecture of the Third Reich. Only minimally influenced by Neoclassicism and “Heimat” or vernacular style, it breathes the spirit of modernism. As one of the very few “strip cities” actually realized, it is an important architectural monument. The facility was laid out according to plans by Clemens Klotz, and has for the most part been preserved. The facades and essential details, on the other hand, diverge from the original plans, and were in part executed only in the 1950s. The originally intended unity of the monumental facility, which was to have been visible at a glance from the shore, no longer remains. Instead, the ensemble is today perceived as a series of fragments.
The conversion of one of the blocks, each of which measures 500m in length, into a youth hostel poses the delicate question of how to deal with this historical heritage. The proposed strategy adopts the intent of the original design as its point of departure and attempts to reinforce and to improve the character of the facility. The specific traits of the building, such as its enormous length and stoic window rhythm, are taken up mainly as landscape qualities. The strategy is not to strive for contrasts between old and new, but instead for their harmonization.
The entire building will be furnished with an external thermal insulation composite system. The façade is interpreted as a smooth skin, and the gently reflective windows are set flush into it. In contrast to the original design, the ground floor is activated via public functions and the façades open onto the landscape.
Because the building’s size forms an experience, especially especially the long corridors, these will be preserved and their spatial quality.