architecture : urban : visual culture

Budget hostel, budget design

Essential Hostel aims to challenge the conventional notion of a backpacker hostel. The commissioner asked the team of Partizan Architecture to make a hostel that becomes competitive on the market by improved quality through design, while remaining a budget oriented accommodation.

The hostel has shared dormitory and private rooms with bathrooms, community area with kitchen all furnished with custom-made furniture. The hostel was transformed from four separate neighbouring flats including a two offices, a hairdresser salon and a residence that constituted the first floor of a historic apartment building built in the 19th century, designed by renown Hungarian architect József Hild.

By removing the separation walls of the previously individual real-estates, the heterogeneity of the former layers of usage became visible. As a consequence different floorings, materials and other installations that used to serve the individual functions merged into one longitudinal continous community space: it is like an X-ray through the building. Due to the very tight budget on one hand and experimentation on the other we aimed to turn this heterogenity into an advantage and tried to keep and adadapt to the existing environment to the possibly highest extent.

Since newly built elements were also needed to be installed , we developed a strategy for their integration to the given diversity: the intervention for the hostel function intends to behave as a new but temporary and distinctive layer on the existing structure. We marked this distinction by applying the newly built plasterboard walls partly unpainted. The new lighting system follows this principle as well: the electric cables are not hidden in the walls but visible as an added layer.

We wanted to extend this concept to the installation of furniture: instead of built-in interior elements, mobile, prefabricated and independent units are installed.

By the design of the custom-made beds in the dormitories the main aim was to increase comfort by fostering privacy of the individual user. In addition to private lockers, plugs and lamps curtains were also introduced for the beds 50cm farther from the side of the mattress so that an extended area in front of the bed can be used as private territory for changing clothes for instance. With such small interventions we intended to expand the usability of the only private living unit of the urban traveller.


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