LAVA won the international competition commissioned by DJH Bayern to design a new 180-bed youth
hostel in Bayreuth, Germany and the planning and construction period for the youth hostel took five
years. This involved the development of new architectural guidelines by the Bavarian Youth Hostel
Association to redefine their hostels to meet contemporary expectations. The Association’s hostels
each have a different focus and Bayreuth caters for physically active guests. LAVA had successfully
remodelled the 1930s Untersberg house in Berchtesgaden, Germany’s first designer hostel in 2011. In
June 2015 the groundbreaking ceremony for Bayreuth took place and prototypes of the bed and room
modules were produced and made accessible.
The concept is based on:
The design takes influences of the place and combines them with modern design elements. Inside and
outside are thought of as a whole experience: parts of the building become stands for the events in
the sports facilities outside and various events can take place both inside and outside.
Rooms, grounds and sports fields are fully accessible and especially equipped for active people with
disabilities, both guests and employees. A whole wheelchair basketball team can stay here -14 rooms
on the ground floor are wheelchair accessible with ground level showers, under sinks, increased space
and technical equipment. Doors, terraces, sports and parking areas are accessible and are designed
with appropriate guidance systems. The principle of inclusion is also implemented in the personnel of
the youth hostel, about 1/3 of the employees have disabilities.
New spatial configuration of the whole building and room modules includes material use and design,
e.g. integration of graphics. The hybrid wood combined with solid construction allows the use of local
materials and techniques.
LAVA chose the letter ‘Y’ shape because the geometry creates a building shape that interweaves
interior and exterior space. It offers views to three directions, creates natural openings to the sport
fields, terraces and gardens, and creates a central community space.
The designer age of the 21st century means young travellers and backpackers want a special identity,
community and unique experiences, not just a clean bed and shower.
Bayreuth provided a stunning location and a unique opportunity to develop the prototype of a new
sports hostel, a benchmark, that further develops the traditional hostel through innovative spatial
configurations, sustainability at environmental, structural and social levels and integrated sporting
facilities directly adjacent to the building: a place that invites active use and relaxation.
The Y shape also creates a central atrium, a hub for offline as well as online interaction, a meeting
space that provides entertainment, interaction, comfort and communication. An amphitheatre in the
middle connects the different levels in a playful way. A skylight provides natural daylight whilst
horizontal and diagonal sightlines direct guests to different functions in the building such as reception,
seminar rooms, dining, kitchen, spread out over two floors and connected to each other via this
Each wing of the Y has access to the exterior at the end, and many ‘loops’ combining inside and
outside come together at the central point of the Y. The wider arm houses public functions: kitchen
and canteen on ground level, seminar rooms on first floor; and both are connected via the hall and
stairs and have direct access to outside.
The visionary design is marked by intelligent organisation (easy to find things, get in contact, spend
time together, connect inside to outside activities, rooms become viewing spots for sport activities).
This integrated concept fulfils the hostel motto: ‘experience community’ and goes beyond it:
‘experience the unexpected’ – not the youth hostel as people know it. It’s this organisation – creating
a stage for activities – separating individual from group spaces but bringing people together in an
open internal landscape that is unique. This is budget accommodation, but it offers spatial fluidity and
other spatial experiences not available even in expensive hotels.
Sports fields, adventure playgrounds and volleyball terraces are complemented by local vegetation. A
grand staircase doubling as an amphitheatre is used for cultural events such as outdoor movie
screenings and theatre performances.
The fluid structure is integrated into the landscape, with contemporary materials and a ‘no frills’
interior – a powerful place for active people.
The new building for the JH Bayreuth is located in a landscaped situation in the surroundings of the
university and a swimming pool. The building reacts to this by dividing and zoning the exterior space.
Starting from a central atrium, individual two-storey functional areas develop in a Y shape into the
terrain. The 30-metre-long room wings are facing north and south. Between the building parts, the
associated functions such as a sports field, adventure playground and vegetation zones are
integrated. The low building height underlines the topographical integration and counteracts the urban
planning dominance of a multi-storey building on the large, green plot. The upper floor of each wing is
connected via an outdoor area with stairs to the landscape level.
Sustainability is environmental, as well as social and structural.
The innovative structural and social organisation creates a stage for activities, separating individual
from group spaces, but bringing together people in an open internal landscape.
The room typology is new – LAVA designed a highly flexible modular wooden wall system with
modular contemporary custom built-in furniture accommodating washrooms and bed niches.
Individual rooms feature concrete floors and ceilings, niches with beds on either side, integration of
furniture in the walls. Highly flexible walls between the rooms in the wings can be replaced. These
separation walls are fabricated as modular ‘furniture’ elements.
Environmental sustainability includes the application of local materials, highly insulated facades and
the use of renewable energy.
Wood, concrete floors and ceilings create an industrial robustness with bright infills of yellow and
green on ceilings and floors, black and white neutral areas and strong graphics. It is an unusual mix of
concrete slabs and wooden supports.
The geometry of the wooden roof is unique as the upper beams follow the curves of the roof and the
lower ones follow the straight spacing of the rooms resulting in a three-dimensional truss system
visible in the central part of the building.
Colour patterns on ceilings and floors make reference to sports activities or natural elements like tree
This is a ‘barrier-free’ building, a hostel suitable for all abilities including disabled sports teams such as
whole wheelchair basketball teams. All rooms are accessible by lift or ramps, ‘universal’ bathroom
sinks and the grounds and sports fields are wheelchair accessible. Two thirds of the rooms on the
ground floor have special bathrooms suitable for wheelchairs.
BACKGROUNDLAVA won the international competition commissioned by DJH Bayern to design a new 180-bed youthhostel in Bayreuth, Germany and the planning and construction period for the youth hostel took fiveyears. This involved the development of new architectural guidelines by the Bavarian Youth HostelAssociation to redefine their hostels to meet contemporary expectations. The Association’s hostelseach have a different focus and Bayreuth caters for physically active guests. LAVA had...
- Year 2018
- Work finished in 2018
- Status Completed works
- Type Hotel/Resorts / Tourist Facilities / Interior Design