Origo - Youth Hostel

Bálint Tamás
"Ion Mincu" University of Architecture and Urban Planning

Project idea

The site is located on the hill near the train station of Sighisoara in Romania.The site that contains a restaurant called Villa Franka and the conceptual observation tower from an earlier studio project, is in direct vicinity with the forest.
The requirement of the studio project was to create a youth hostel in this site. This would give home to young visitors such as students on school trips or holidays. In these conditions I tried to create a space that would be preferable by its visitors and would be unique in its own way.Being in a natural environment I was concerned about the fact that a large building might disturb the landscape, so I wanted to make as transparent, as invisible as it was possible.This led me to the decision to place the whole building inside the natural soil and cover the top of it, so when you arrive to the site, at first glance it might look like there is no construction on the site at all, just a tiny hill that is visible. This way I was able to preserve the natural atmosphere of the place, and to create visually and spatially exciting architecture.

Project description

My proposal in terms of concept was to create an architectural shape that encourages the visitors to create a gathering and at the same time to be integrated in the nature, thus to become invisible from the outside. This led me to come up with a circular shape that is half sunken in the ground, and covered with natural soil, allowing us to use the roof as a green terrace, from where we can observe the interior courtyard.The circular structure would be broken at two point where I placed the entrance areas. In between these entrances we have the common spaces that can be used by all the visitors (study room, leisure area, kitchen, restaurant) and the reception. The larger strip of the structure gives home to the accommodation spaces. The center of this virtual circle is a gathering place, the heart of the project, when you stand here in this sunken space that is surrounded by the forest you almost forget that you are in an artificial space created by humans. Between the center and the housing units I placed a filter, a circular porch with stone pavement and glass enclosure, in order to protect the porch in various climate conditions.

Technical information

The load bearing structure is made of reinforced cement concrete entirely, since it works like a shell placed in the earth, with very few openings toward the exterior, also it has to sustain the ground that is covered with. The whole building is made of 2 sub structures.The larger one is for the accommodation, the smaller is for covered common spaces, like preparing breakfast, having a dinner, studying, and the reception area plus storage and technical spaces.
From the inner ring the rooms are covered with glazed panels with tinted windows in order to obstruct the vision inside from the exterior, to grant privacy for the interior, however from the interior we have visual connection with the outside, thus with the center of the whole complex. For this glazed panel I used Schueco ads 75 hd hi system.For the sliding glazed panels on the porch I used Alumil S650 system.
Regarding the accommodation spaces I used two modules; one with 2 bunk beds allowing up to 4 people to accommodate at the same time, while the other module has 4 bunk beds allowing up to 8 people to accommodate, and there is another room for disabled people, that is located close to the entrance of the hostel.
Regarding the openings each room has the glazed panel wall mentioned above and a window ( in the case of module with 4 bunk beds, two) to the exterior. This window in reality is actually connected by a galvanized steel sheet tube to the surface from the exterior of the structure. This is a unique solutions, somehow works like a window well, but in my case the window is totally under the ground. This kind of solutions does not allow much light to the interior, but it is compensated by the glazed wall.
Regarding the finishing, on the exterior porch I used stone tiles, meanwhile on the interior laminated parquet for the rooms, and ceramic tiles for the bathrooms. In the common space the floor finishings consists of cork flooring, ceramic tiles and brushed concrete floor.The interior walls are covered with plasterboards, the exterior is finished by decorative plaster, except the upper balustrade ring, that is covered with wooden planks.
The roof is a walkable extensive green roof system allowing to plant smaller plants.It is an important part of the project both technically and visually because it also has thermal insulation aspect and it hides the building in the ground.For this I used a ZinCo system, that contains a 25 cm XPS layer as thermal insulation.

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