The Berchtesgaden Youth Hostel renovation project defies the notion of what hostels should look like
Much of the work of Lava, also known as the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture, is progressive and edgy. Let’s call their work ‘organic technology’.
Their projects look as if Jackson Pollack painted with, and then froze mercury in mid-air. Their interiors compel one to wonder, “What would Stanley Kubrick think?”
Lava’s Berchtesgaden Youth Hostel renovation jars in juxtaposition. That is, on first glance. The hostel, near Munich, Germany, is a series of renovation projects. The first stage is to overhaul the hostel, modernise one part of the building to serve families or groups. Highly individualised rooms, bibulous colours, and cantilevered windowboxes ensure guests never think of hostels in the same way. This is no military-style space design of bunkers, ever so typical of hostels — nope.
Lava cleverly designed the spaces with built‐in furniture and integrated storage. It turned formerly unused space under the attic into a mezzanine level, complete with beds open to the spaces below. They linked the indoors and out with cantilevered ‘window boxes’, which act as tables, viewing platforms, and lounging spaces.
Wide hallways pre-empt the feeling of being in a hospital or a warren of rooms. Materials like rough concrete ground the frenzy of colours on the furniture and walls. Private storage spaces lend a feeling of security that’s rare in hostels, while each room has the added luxury of private bathrooms. Backpackers will feel like they’ve stumbled in their own Ritz Carlton.
The sustainability factors include a low energy facade, floor heating, and a biomass pellet heating system.
Lava won the competition for the redesign in 2009, and the other buildings in the project will be transformed over the next few years.