Wow. Your design hotel in a former prison. How do you approach such a project? How do you combine the historical and sensitive heritage of the building with the right amount of comfort and lightness? We tried to put ourselves in the shoes of the former prisoners. What did they lack? What did they need to survive? What was essential for them? For that, we had to completely turn our normal thought processes upside down. What is good about life behind bars? It is the protection and the retreat. It’s the concentration on the essentials that comes from deprivation. It is the moment that at least allows thoughts to wander in the direction of freedom.
Retreat, concentration and the moment are also needs of our society today and form the philosophical basis of the design concept.
The building on Grabenallee in Offenburg was built at the time of industrialisation. That is why many robust materials and dark, rough surfaces are used in the hotel. With the industrial development, however, more and more prosperity moved in among the population and with it flowing water. Large, free-standing bathtubs in the rooms allude to this.
Depending on the size, two to three former cells were combined into one room. In some cases, room dividers were built in to take up the original room sizes and make the confinement in which the inmates lived indirectly perceptible. At the same time, however, the transparent partitioning of the sleeping area gives the guest a feeling of security.
Original prison elements appear again and again. The old cell doors, for example, were reused. Not as real room doors – they were simply too small for that – but as windows into the past next to them: photographs of the old prison are hidden in the hatches through which food used to be served.
The hotel consists of two separate buildings and a new intermediate building. The rooms and suites are distributed in the buildings, the public area with restaurant, bar and lobby is located in the large glass cube sitting in between. On the one hand, it is a visual link between the two hotel wings, but it also symbolises the former prison yard. On an intermediate level, a living room for the hotel guests was built in, based on the former common room of the prisoners.
The prison ambience has given way to an absolute feel-good atmosphere. Liberty is a Member of Design Hotels, an association that represents and curates around 270 selected hotels in 50 countries. Each hotel reflects a special idea, vision or history and stands for genuine hospitality, cultural authenticity, as well as special design and architecture.