The youth hostel is designed for school groups and is in the Austrian Alps at 1700m above sea level. The aim of the project was to enable affordable school trips in an ecological environment. In the architectural sense, the alpine landscape was a defining factor for both the form and the materiality of the building. The topography of the surrounding landscape can be experienced both inside and outside the youth hostel.

Project Name: Youth Hostel Gerlos

Studio Name: lechner & lechner architects
Design Team: Christine Lechner, Horst Michael Lechner, Lukas Ployer, Paul Lechner, Michal Trixl
Area: 7.557 m2
Year: 2021
Location: Hochkrimml 244, 5743 Krimml, Austria

structural engineering :  Thomas Forsthuber
building physics: Ingenieurbüro Ing. Denis Gappmaier
house technic: Bestra GmbH , OPTIPLAN Ingenieurgesellschaft für
technische Gebäudeausrüstung und Energiewirtschaft GmbH
geology: Mag. Andreas Pflügler GmbH
furniture design / interior design: Stehaphan Keil
client representative: Joerg Neumaier , Arne Tammen
Photography Credits: Julian Höck

Youth Hostel Gerlos by lechner & lechner architects - Sheet5
©Julian Höck

Therefore, the side wings of the youth hostel are buried, so that the alpine landscape is interwoven with the building. The main building is a solid wood construction. Its wooden facade continues to weather over time and thus merges with the high alpine forest landscape. The pent roof takes on the slope of the landscape, so that the main structure appears smaller.

Youth Hostel Gerlos by lechner & lechner architects - Sheet7
©Julian Höck

The newly created village square extends between the two side wings. This sinks into the landscape and creates a previously missing center for the village. The square is spatially delimited on four sides by the main building, the side wings, and the forest. It serves as an outdoor sports area, a meeting place for school groups, a party area for weddings and much more. The interior is accessible via the village square. A spatial 3D puzzle with a focus on sports opens up here. In the foyer of the youth hostel, the guest immediately encounters the vertical access, which is also known as the “wooden dome” and which extends over six floors. It is a three-dimensional promenade with views of almost all areas of the youth hostel. Incidentally, up to 400 arriving students with their suitcases can be distributed to the rooms through the ramps.

Youth Hostel Gerlos by lechner & lechner architects - Sheet8
©Julian Höck

The indoor walk connects the sports areas in the basement with the rooms on the floors above. Seating niches, table football tables and semi-open room zones with hammocks enable communication with one another and offer space for school groups of different sizes within the promenade. In the basement there is a full-fledged competition gym, a pump track, an indoor soccer field, trampolines with foam diving pools and a bouldering and climbing wall that stretches through the promenade to the foyer. All in all, the large volumes with the small room wings come together like in a 3D puzzle or Tetris game to form a compact whole with around 7500 m2 of usable space.

With regard to the materiality of the interior, the raw sheet metal covering of the ramps creates a strong contrast to the light wooden surface of the interior. This creates tension. In the individual rooms, the wood creates a relaxing atmosphere, thus bringing the advantages of this material closer to the youngsters. The wood-based material is also a regional and renewable material.

Youth Hostel Gerlos by lechner & lechner architects - Sheet9
©Julian Höck

For ecological reasons, the youth hostel is heated by the local biomass power plant, the journey is usually by bus, the furniture was made from waste from the production of solid wood walls, the project was built instead of a chalet village and is therefore much more economical in terms of land use. Industrial quality was deliberately used for the solid wood construction walls in order to give space to the signs of wear and tear of the users.


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