Berchtesgaden Youth Hostel / LAVA

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Architects: LAVA
Location: Berchtesgaden,
Client: Deutsches Jugendherbergswerk, Landesverband Bayern e.V., München
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 1,500 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of LAVA

LAVA’s reinterpretation of an existing youth hostel has resulted in a completely new type of space. The transformation of the youth hostel is underway! The design is all about the individuality of spaces – LAVA achieved this by the clever reorganisation of the existing volume resulting in different types of bedrooms. And a sustainable makeover includes low energy facade, floor heating, the installation of a bimass pellet heating system and the use of local materials and craftsmanship.

Courtesy of LAVA

LAVA has set new precedents for future hostel guests with:

  • Multi-purposeareas,previously unknown in this type of accommodation
  • Authentic spatial features based on the location and the transformation of an historic building
  • Built-in furniture and integrated storage avoids the barracks-style appearance of the typical youth hostel.
  • The space is organised into visually coherent zones,with just a few key interventions.
Courtesy of LAVA

Recent developments in the hotel sector reveal an increasing trend towards the 5-star luxury segment on one hand, and on the other, the growing appeal of the individually designed basic hotel. LAVA’s study found that the success of these hotel typologies in urban areas is based on a return to simple yet clearly defined concepts, combined with quality elements, materials, and furniture with spaces that stimulate activity, group interaction, and a sense of community.
Alexander Rieck, LAVA director, said: ’Our study of hostel typologies found that the originality of the surroundings and the uniqueness of the experience creates an authentic concept’.

Site Plan

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.

Courtesy of LAVA

Tobias Wallisser, LAVA director, said: ‘the blending, overlapping and interlinking of different spheres influences society today. This constantly evolving process is what gives LAVA’s Hostel Berchtesgaden form and shape by providing flexible but highly recognizable 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 color within which the national flag of each European country can be identified. These strong bright colors 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.

Courtesy of LAVA

Chris Bosse, LAVA director, added: ’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. Further projects in other locations in Bavaria are currently being planned.

Courtesy of LAVA

Text provided by LAVA

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Cite: "Berchtesgaden Youth Hostel / LAVA" 16 Nov 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • Zut

    Good concept, good spaces… But what the f**k with the stripes…

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