LAVA – Laboratory for Visionary Architecture
Innovative, integrative and international, a LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture) sports youth hostel – one of a new generation of youth hostels – has recently opened in Bayreuth, Germany.
The project to create the new facility was carried out for the Bavarian Youth Hostel Association. Architects were LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture), Berlin with WENZEL + WENZEL, Frankfurt.
The fluid structure of the building is integrated into the landscape, with contemporary materials and holistic sustainability – a place for active people of all abilities.
LAVA’s concept for the sports hostel is innovative, with an inventive new spatial configuration of the whole facility, including individual room modules, material use and design.
The facility is also highly integrated within an inclusive barrier-free building, with sporting areas merging directly and, as well as accessible spaces, facilities and grounds.
The hostel also has an international feel, combining a sense of place with contemporary elements of Bayreuth’s global partner cities.
Tobias Wallisser, LAVA director, said: “LAVA chose a ‘Y’ shape for the 180-bed hostel because it cleverly generates a connective central space and interweaves the interior and exterior spaces, offering expansive views and multiple accessible openings to the sports fields and gardens.”
“Our research showed that travellers want funky design, a special identity, access to community and unique experiences. Not just a clean bed and shower! So our reinterpretation of a youth hostel features innovative spatial configurations that encourage interaction and accessibility; sustainability at functional, constructional and social levels; and integrated sporting facilities.”
The rooms, grounds and facilities are all fully accessible and especially equipped for active people of all abilities. In fact, a whole wheelchair basketball team could stay there!
Fourteen rooms on the ground floor are wheelchair accessible by lift or ramps, and there are walk-in showers, wheelchair-accessible sinks, more space and technical aids.
Doors, terraces, sports and parking areas are accessible and there are customised way-finding systems with strong graphics. Inclusion is also seen in the staffing with about one third of employees having disabilities.
The guest room typology is new – LAVA designed an intelligent wall system with modular contemporary custom built-in furniture – toilets, showers as well as bed niches. These three-dimensional wall modules facilitate different room configurations through partially rotatable beds creating two, four and six-bed rooms. They maximise room usage for a broad range of guests – from individuals to families to wheelchair teams.
The multipurpose central atrium is a surprising element with its play of materials and colours.
It fulfils the youth hostel motto ‘Experience the Community’ serving as a hub for (digital) entertainment, interaction and communication.
The amphitheatre in the middle is lit by a skylight above and connects to the different levels in a playful way, whilst giving horizontal and diagonal sightlines guiding visitors through the building.
The reception, seminar rooms, bistro, kitchen, sports and game facilities are spread out over two floors and connected to each other via this central atrium.
Each wing of the ‘Y’ shaped building has access to the exterior at its end, and many ‘loops’ combining inside and outside come together at the central point of the Y.
Parts of the building double as grandstands for cultural events and encourage community interaction. Terraces allow direct access to the green fields and sports areas of the ground floor zone, all of which are accessible.
Another feature is no fake surfaces, just authentic materials – wood looks like wood.
Much of the structure, including wooden trusses, is exposed, giving a ‘raw’ space. The wood, concrete floors and ceilings create an industrial robustness with brightly coloured infills and strong graphics referencing sports activities or natural elements like tree canopies. Using local materials and techniques there is a focus on solidity and functionality rather than relying on the latest technology.