GRAFT Architects have won an invited competition to restore and extend one of Germany's oldest youth hostels in central Munich, Germany. Their proposal, which was judged alongside designs by haascookzemmrich (Stuttgart), Snøhetta (Oslo), and YES Architecture (Munich), centers around the idea of "experiencing community." Their proposal enables exchange and communication whilst also alluding to the "established traditions of simple traveling, youthful curiosity and the thirst for encounter." Connecting the historic quality of the building with the challenges of modern habits and traveling practices, their design "builds a bridge between origins and departure."
"The main entrance of the new youth hostel will be relocated to the Winthirplatz square where the stylistically calm cubature and façade naturally close the gap in the building block, respecting the characteristics of the district." A two-story lobby transforms into "a lively 'experience-space' and serves as 'formal business card' of the architecture. Natural elements of the square and the inner courtyard are translated into an amorphous and landscaped architecture that ties together interior and exterior spaces."
The building is "big enough to host a large number of visitors at the same time and therefore symbolizes the basic idea of experiencing community: the design intentionally combines functions of the lobby, the dining room and the seminar spaces in a joint interior square."
"For the modern youth community does not only take place in the built environment but also and increasingly in virtual spaces." The lobby, therefore, "is not only formally but also virtually a 'cloud' where simple devices support the interaction between the guests." A modern black board of graphics, QR-codes, mini screens and projections of maps - as well as Facebook and Twitter pages - are part of this communication space.
"The façade of the historic existing building at the Wendl-Dietrich-Straße will be renovated according to official preservation orders. In addition to that, the distinctive entrance arches will be made usable on the inside through a delicate glass front system. The entire space of the youth hostel is handicapped accessible so that all spatial qualities are available to everybody."
Competition: Modernisierung der Jugendherberge München-City
Award: First Place
Architects: GRAFT Architects
Project Year: 2013
Photographs: Courtesy of GRAFT Architects