LAVA Reimagines the Youth Hostel

LAVA Reimagines the Youth Hostel

LAVA has created a new typology for youth hostels with the revisioning of the Berchtesgaden Youth Hostel near Munich, Germany. The new design features individualised rooms, bold colours, local materials and craftsmanship and, uniquely, multipurpose zones. The sustainable makeover includes a low energy facade, floor heating, and the installation of a bimass pellet heating system. Built‐in furniture and integrated storage avoids the ubiquitous barracks-style environment.

The Berchtesgaden Youth Hostel master plan allocates specific activities to specific building areas within the overall complex, and a reordering of function within an existing structural fabric. The design of one building in the hostel, the Haus Untersberg, optimises contemporary requirements for family or group usage within this concept. The project's first phase entailed the modernisation of this building, and was targeted at families. The existing room structure was opened up to facilitate higher quality rooms, each with it's own bathroom.

As youth hostels boast a wide range of typologies ranging from hut to castle standardizing would be the wrong approach 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 at ground floor made visible in the new rooms and unused space under the attic becomes a mezzanine level with additional beds open to the spaces below.

"The blending, overlapping and interlinking of different spheres influences society today," said Tobias Wallisser, LAVA director. "This constantly evolving process is what gives LAVA's Hostel Berchtesgaden form and shape by providing flexible but highly recognisable spaces. A special quality of comfort is achieved by integrating simple and efficient technology."

Ease of movement within each room is complemented by ample baggage storage and locker facilities. Built-in furniture zones enhance the look of each room, giving a contemporary twist to such furnishings as a bunk bed, which transforms into a cocoon.

These built-in zones also link internal parts of the building with the external - connections to the surrounding landscape are provided through large, panoramic "window boxes", which cantilever from the façade and act as seating, table areas, viewing platforms and relaxation elements.

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.

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.

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