Design meets adventure

Wednesday 30 Nov 2011

Berchtesgaden youth hostel benefits from extensive revamp, tailoring for a variety of individual experiences

LAVA’s reinterpretation of an existing youth hostel is now fully complete, as construction finishes on this radical transformation project; the aim was to envisage, then effectively realise, what would amount to creating a completely new type of space. The essence of the design is heavily rooted in notions on the individuality of space - LAVA achieved this by the clever reorganisation of the existing volume, allowing for the emergence of an altogether different array bedroom types.

Combined in this makeover is an important sustainable element; under this guise, alterations include: constructing a low energy facade, fitting floor heating, installing a biomass pellet heating system and ensuring the utilisation of local materials and craftsmanship.

Aiming to advance a number of standard criteria to new precedents, LAVA has provided a number of features formerly often foreign to the majority of hostel accommodations; these included: highly inviting, efficient multi-purpose areas; built-in furniture and integrated storage, to repel traces of the usual barracks-style appearance; and an organisation that’s been structured by visually coherent zones. To tap into the increasing demand for basic, individually designed hotels, a real care must be taken to provide quality-assured spaces that stimulate interaction and a sense of community.

As youth hostels pertain to a significantly broad set of typologies, ranging from hut to castle, taking a standardised approach would be an ineffective means to facilitate this burgeoning sector; and so LAVA opted for creating different bedrooms using the old structure in different ways. This transformation of the old spaces includes a wooden ceiling of the old restaurant, incorporated into the décor of the newest ground floor bedrooms.

Throughout the building there is a recurring reinterpretation of specific elements – for example, the original flag wall in the entrance foyer, featuring real flags, is now adorned with stripes of colour within which the national flag of each European country can be identified.

These strong bright colours contrast with the natural, regionally sourced materials, which feature quality fitting and meticulous workmanship for facades and furnishings. Particular attention was also paid to the reduction of overall energy usage, resulting in a highly efficient building. Chris Bosse, LAVA director, commented: "The core experience is that of authenticity and simplicity within the hostel."

This pilot project with the German Youth Hostel Association in Bavaria is located to the south east of Munich. LAVA won the competition for the redesign in 2009. The other buildings in the Berchtesgaden Youth Hostel will be transformed over the next few years.

Tom Aston

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