Youth hostel, Lommel, 2011

A youth hostel that can be approached in different ways and has multiple entrances. The location of the hostel in a clearing in the middle of the forest ensures that the user is really surrounded by the forest, and that the hostel is always overlooking the trees or canopy. This concept does not rule out that in various places through the trees, above the canopy or the height of the trunks, interesting perspectives or views can emerge. The sketch design for the hostel of Lommel uses the spatial model of the panopticon, proposing a building where in a limited, gentle manner a sort of 'panoptic control' is available from the reception area (on the ground-floor, in the atrium), but that still relies mostly the sense of social control and responsibility of the users themselves. The reception desk is centrally located, almost at the geometrical center of the atrium. This allows the administrator to keep track of public functions, which are situated in close proximity. The youth hostel's volume represents a composition of two different elements. They form as it were a pedestal/ plinth (the three-lobed volume of the ground floor) on top of which an object is placed (a cilinder containing the first and second floors). This distinction reflects the programmatic differentiation. On the ground floor are all communal and public space, as well as the administrator's residence. The above floors serve exclusively for resting or sleeping. The rooms on the top floors are more introverted, but each features an opening towards the forest. The hostel tries to be more than a simple clustering of rooms and functional areas. Through the implementation of the building as a whole as well as the interior, a number of different 'atmospheres' are intertwined that allow and incite various types of activities (quiet or adventurous outdoor spaces, private and public roof terraces, balconies, the central void). A very special atmosphere is created in the "hole" on the second floor of the building. Here the atmosphere of the campfire is recreated, by definition, a place for social encounters.