Urban Hostel

An old customs house on the waterfront of Copenhagen is transformed into a youth hostel. The eighty-bed hostel inspires interaction with other guests as well as exploration of the city. The customs house is adjacent to, but isolated from a popular city park.

Site Response

The building now acts as a barrier between the urban park and the waterfront. Large parking lots and fenced-off areas undermine the inherent value of the location: situated between the park and harbor. By compacting the parking areas, the green space of the park can extend to the waterfront. A harbor side pathway is now able to continue comfortably along the water, enveloping the hostel in foot-traffic. This not only expands the use of the harbor to the public but engages the visitors in the hostel in a wider community context.

Scaled Spaces

The interior space reflects the urban language of volumes and voids. The volumes provide another level of interiority which house the sleeping rooms, rest rooms and other services. These spaces are separated to provide sound insulation and additional privacy. The negative space created by these volumes are carefully planned voids which become the public spaces of the hostel. These interior lounges or plazas facilitate informal meetings, welcoming interaction.

Interior Landscape

A myriad of nooks and crannies invite casual encounters, while distinct zones lend legibility to the environment. Raised sleeping areas multiply floor space while creating varied ceiling heights which subtly divide the larger plan into human-scaled spaces. Simple construction materials and unusual forms give a playful DIY feel to the hostel, helping the users feel like active partners in their environment.

school — Danish Institute for Study Abroad
studio — Interior Architecture Studio
instructor — Johan Carlson
location — Copenhagen, Denmark
scale — 10,000 sf
date of completion — August 2009