CAMOU - Youth Hostel

Stefan-Alexandru Palaghia
"Ion Mincu" University of Architecture and Urban Planning

Project idea

Taking advantage of its whereabouts, the project aims to reconnect people with the natural landscape. Being given the task to design a hostel, the central idea around which every architectural intention crystalized was nature. When first approaching the site, one might notice the perfect antithesis between how human beings build and the way nature puts everything together.
Having this in mind, the negotiation started among the main elements in the area: a 30-meter high observation tower located in the bottom left zone of the site, the existing restaurant that opens to the medieval city of Sighisoara through a belvedere platform, the forest and the clearance in the middle of the site. The tension birth from the matter (the forest) and the void (the clearance) generated the sinuous movement of the proposed architectural object. The outline of the building tries to unify the whole area, therefore, towards the main vertical element (the tower), the hostel seems to vanish in the ground, while towards the Villa Franka restaurant, the object reveals a set of wooden tree trunks reclaimed from illegal deforestation as a manifesto for the trauma nature endures from people.

Project description

The design of the hostel aims to send to a living-like organism growing from underneath the ground leaving room for three main zones representing the accommodation units. These units are pushed into the forest but face at the same time the main gathering area outside. In this way, they let the young people that are accommodated there to come closer to nature but feel in the same way protected and safe. The junction between these zones is done by inside common areas meant for socialization and coming together. These “socializing nodes” are oriented so that they open to unknown while turning their back to the known/ the ordinary, that they are so much used to.
In a broader scenario, during summer time the whole glass panels that direct the hostel to its surroundings would open completely, creating a symbiosis in terms of inside-outside spaces, being seen simply as a covered space. In the same philosophy of the living-like structure, the interior of the accommodation nits allows dynamic reconfiguration according to the users’ needs. The inner walls fold and slide allowing for enlarged accommodation units. In this way, the daring outside pushes the limits of spatial connections even on the inside.

Technical information

The constructive system is made of a thin ferrocement shell covering the entire ensemble. For being able to build the complicated shape, the construction is made by using an inflated balloon system. In order for the structure to be much easier realized, the shell also includes composite ribs that are rigidly reinforced
using a T-shape laminated profile. These ribs are placed in one direction only, transversal to the shell. In order to stiffen the shell, there is only one rib in the other direction, perpendicular to the first ones mentioned. Towards the main openings of the shell, there should be placed vertical pillars on which the
envelope would rest. The joinery between the vertical elements and the ribs is done as shown in the detail A. The laminated profile used for reinforcing the ribs goes outside the ferrocement embedment and joins the pillar via a circular metal node.

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