Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Backstay Hostel Ghent in Belgium by a154
December 24th, 2014 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: a154
Building A. ‘Het licht’ (the light) as Backstay Hostel
At night the lighting of the facade and the entrance section not only symbolized the name of the printers but they also illustrated the nocturnal activity involved in the production of a newspaper.
It was clear that the socialist movement was very proud of their new building and this was also made evident in architecture magazines, posters and flyers. The majority of the authentic interior, designed by Maxime Brunfaut, the son of the architect, was unfortunately lost during the bankruptcy of the printing company ‘Het Licht’ and when the newspaper editors moved. The building remained empty for a long time until it was redeveloped in the early 90s as the new cultural center Backstage. It is still known to many citizens of Ghent under that name.
This cultural center came to an end in 2009, after which the buildings were sold to the current owner, Upgrade Estate. Since this building calls for a special approach, this particular renovation project was executed in close cooperation with the Department of Monuments and Heritage. The valuable floor, wall and ceiling finishes were, as far as possible, preserved and revalued throughout the entire building. However, the focal point of the restoration lies in the entrance hall, the ticket counter hall and the staircase but also in the beautiful glazed facade which will be restored during the next phase.
Meticulous studies, such as drawing up historic color schemes, were conducted in order to remain as close as possible to the techniques originally used in the execution of the building work. The colors were chosen in accordance with this research. The painting technique was copied.
The facade of the adjacent building, the former bookstore ‘De Vlam’ (the flame), was also restored. The stained glass windows with external joinery was restored. The green color is good in keeping with the original view. A budget-friendly hostel with an extensive range of rooms containing, in total, some 108 beds is realized after restoration.
The first floor is occupied by the ‘daily functions’. The former ticket counter hall located at street level is transformed into check-in location for the hotel guests. Deeper into the building, the cafeteria and the breakfast room, open onto both an internal patio as well as an outdoor terrace. The rooms on each floor are furnished with bunk beds and regular beds. The lighthouse is occupied by a ‘blog space’ where it’s possible to work in peace and quiet.
Interior designers arranged the interior layout using multicolored and often fixed furnishings. Moreover, each room also refers to a major international newspaper.
The student houses B and C
Building B has 7 building levels and connects to the Backstay building with the face end. This U-shaped building consists of a base of five levels crowned with two floors. It forms a pendant in relation to the adjoining, adjacent building. In order to give each of the 93 rooms sufficient light and to disperse the volume into the courtyard, it was decided that a recess should be made in the center of the volume to obtain a systematic U-shape.
This incision ensures that the building has a far greater articulation than when the entire permissible surface area is fully built up. The facades of the base are provided as stacked surfaces in various shades suggesting thereby the abundance of student rooms. Program becomes facade, each room is given an identity. The division composed of base-crowning creates a reduced dominance in the inner area. This receded crown with vertical lattice work in dark color favors the incidence of light.
Building C consists of two levels and is situated opposite the garden. This building connects to the rear facades of the adjacent buildings. Conceptually, it has been devised to fit seamlessly into the existing provisional and rear facades of the project edging.
It was decided that the best way to resolve the excessive construction length would be by allowing the collective circulation to run via the outdoor terraces, which are an extension of the rooms. For this purpose, the building’s front facade was removed and replaced by several steel tubes, creating a great degree of openness towards the square. The rest of the building’s structure is retained. The vertical circulation takes place via sets of stairs that are hung on the building. At the height of these stairs the terraces become wider and this results in fully fledged outdoor spaces. This building consists of 12 student rooms.