[BOX-ed] / Papaioannou Architects

[BOX-ed] / Papaioannou Architects
Courtesy Papaioannou Architects

Papaioannou Architects has shared their proposal for the Barcelona 2011 Bohemian Hostel for backpackers International Competition with us here at ArchDaily. Additional images of their project and a extensive architect narrative can be found after the jump.

MAIN CONCEPT – Orientation

Courtesy Papaioannou Architects

Key aspect in our general design approach was the correlation of the new tower to its surroundings as well as its positioning within the city’s broader urban fabric.

Since the plot, given by the competition holder, came with a tight programmatic schedule it seemed imperative to regulate the tower in such a way that it would afford to “correspond” and “link” with other key views of the city (apart to its immediate context) and not simply comply with the needed pre-requisites.

Keeping the above in mind the project formulated taking into account three main axes orientated in three different directions within the city, with the first one pointing towards Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the second one pointing towards the seafront and the third one pointing towards the plaza dels Angels.


Courtesy Papaioannou Architects

Since the plot of land is quite narrow and most of its surrounding buildings have visual access inside it, through windows that overlook the site, the proposal developed in a way that would at least partially permit visual contact from the adjacent buildings to its premises and wouldn’t disturb the flow of natural light towards them.

Apart from the fact that all levels, of the proposal, don’t touch to their neighboring buildings it should be particularly stressed out that levels +3.00, +6.00 and +9.00 are gradually drawn back-following the longitudinal axis of the plot-in order to form open exterior spaces to facilitate the afore mentioned condition.

All uses apart from the rooms, the shared bathrooms and the viewing area are stacked to the lower levels of the Bohemian Hostel starting from level ±0.00 up to level +15.00. This helps to form a thrift programmatic base and deliver the main body of the hostel in a towered structure that runs from level +18.00 and above.

Furthermore the proposal takes into account the structure at the front of the plot by keeping it intact, while levels +12.00 and +15.00 hover slightly above it, seeking a powerful architectural dialectic between a historical fabric and a forward looking intervention.


Courtesy Papaioannou Architects

In order to compliment the three orientation axes of the main concept the proposal establishes them as direct guiding codes. The immediate thought was to form living spaces for the backpackers that are aligned with these axes and offer breathtaking [BOX-ed] views of the city.

As such these axes lead to the creation of volumes that work as accommodation compartments but as well as viewing booths (observatories) for the travelers. The rooms at some points seem to hover above ground and to protrude the buildings external epidermis. To accentuate this hovering effect some rooms – boxes extend slightly more from others creating an overall “dramatized” condition through this “in and out” interplay.


Courtesy Papaioannou Architects

Our other intention, and of outmost importance, was to provide spaces with no columns within the tower in order to achieve maximum design freedom. This set the objective for the development of a large space frame structure that would hold the building together and perform independently to its interior formulated spaces.

Given the above condition we insert all accommodation compartments to this big “scaffold” as single volume-units permitting unhindered views towards the city while within the rooms.

It should be stressed out that all views from the rooms are unobstructed since the diagonal bracing of the space frame is set to the sides of the structure and as such no members disrupt the “continuous” screening of the views.

BUILDING SKIN – X-raying the structure


The space frame holds up the building but also holds up its external epidermis. The skin is a perforated lattice that permits views within the hostel (at some points clearer and at other points not so). According to the density of its perforation we establish a random play of light and shadow. As such depending from the lighting conditions there is a certain transformation of the Bohemian Hostel as a landmark throughout the day. During daytime it renders as a semitransparent un-canonical prism and during nighttime it comes out as a less monolithic volume since it reveals its internal arrangement and composition, providing an X-ray that expresses its bold structural principle. This was the architectural strategy: to make the architecture of the new building permeable, open and inviting.



Level ±0.00 holds just storage space and circulation core.

Level +3.00 is approached through a series of ramps that lead to the entrance hall, which hosts the administration (desks and reception counter) as well as an area for baggage storage. At the same level a bar and a store, as required, serve the needs of the backpackers. The bar can also be approached-without entering the hostel-from another external entrance, while both the store and the bar have internal staircases that lead to the next level above (+6.00).

Level +6.00 hosts, again, the bar and the store since both are deployed into two levels (+3.00 and +6.00 respectively). Both have access to an external terrace and offer views towards an internal-triangular shaped-void that runs vertically through the whole building.

Level +9.00 accommodates the required rooms for staff as well as a small area for reading and eating. The staff has access to two other terraces at level +9.00, strictly for its own handling.

Level +12.00 hosts the kitchen and the dining room. At the longitudinal side of the dining room a set of internal ramps leads to the upper level (+15.00). The dining room has access to a covered double heighted terrace that offers a view of the plaza dels Angels.

Level +15.00 accommodates the lounge area, internet access, the laundry and an ironing room. A “green roof” spans throughout its top.

Level +18.00 up to level +94.00 accommodate the required 50 rooms with shared bathrooms in different planar arrangements, while at some in-between levels rooms are replaced with open terraces-viewing platforms

Level +97.00 hosts the “viewing area”, a glazed enclosure, at the top of the hostel with the rest space occupied by an open terrace.

Building Section Diagram

Image gallery

See allShow less
About this author
Cite: Hank Jarz. "[BOX-ed] / Papaioannou Architects" 08 Jun 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/141020/box-ed-papaioannou-architects> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.