Netizen Budapest



New Life within History

The Netizen Hostel is housed in an Art Nouveau building dating from 1898, located on Rákóczi Avenue, one of the busiest arterial roads, close to the centre of Budapest, Hungary. 

Originally, the building served as the headquarters of the Athenaeum Rt. Publishing House, and therefore it was planned for their needs and not for a hostel.  The building needed both a conversion and a renovation. The building had previously been converted to relative up to date office use utilising low cost materials that had covered over much of the charm of the original building.  The success of the conversion would be based on our ability to balance cost versus retaining and reinvigorating the charm of the original building. The building has load bearing masonry construction so any major structural changes would be costly – and planning had to take this into account.

Multi-locational Team in a Landmark Location

AD-Studio was the lead architect and provided the general designer coordination role between all the design team members, the foreign investor/operator and the Project Manager.  Cooperating with a local designer and a foreign concept designer we shared the responsibility of designing and delivering the project with both. 

Due to the projects prestigious location we had to convince the city authorities that the hostel would meet their tough standards of what they would approve in the area.  They wanted upmarket accommodation – and a hostel did not quite match the bill. With close collaboration with the wider design team we were able to successfully obtain a Building Permit for the project – and the primary hostel function.

The ground floor accommodates the main hostel entrance, reception with a small lobby, a lounge area with the bar and a breakfast area. The central part of the building is occupied by a two-storey high atrium covered with a glass roof which provides natural light. A co-working zone is accommodated on the mezzanine gallery in the atrium space.

The floor levels above the atrium roof contain several types of bedrooms designed to meet today’s guests’ expectations and needs. The hostel accommodates 345 keys, including private rooms and family rooms with bathrooms and dorm rooms for varying numbers of guests. All rooms are designed to have their own unique style.

The Luxury Hostel 

The upmarket Netizen brand needed to differentiate itself from many other budget hotels and hostels in Budapest and create a flagship project.   Designed with the modern connected nomad travelers in mind who wanted a higher standard of accommodation. 

The hostel operated a hybrid product which combined a mix of comfortable shared dormitories as well as more hotel like individual rooms.  Their offer also included co-working and co-eating spaces with a priority placed on the comfort and services in the public spaces.  

The ground level of the hostel accommodates the main entrance, reception with a small lobby, a lounge area with bar and a breakfast area.  The central focus of the project is the double height atrium with a glazed roof bringing daylight deep into the building. A co-working zone is located on a gallery in the atrium space.  The upper levels of the building accommodate the bedrooms and dormitories.  The dormitories offer functional finishes that are durable yet comfortable – the individual bedrooms provide a sensible cost effective alternative to a traditional hotel.

Technical Challenges of Crossing Functions and Centuries

The new functions didn’t easily fit within the fabric of the existing building. Balancing operational simplicity with costs we had to minimize the need to make structural changes in the buildings’ masonry load bearing walls.   A substantial new MEP system had to be installed to cope with the 420 beds (420 travelers!) that could occupy the hostel at any one time.   The huge occupancy also became a fire safety concern until we negotiated secondary public escape routes to the external facades at each level.  We also had to negotiate down the sanitary provisions to realistic numbers to avoid over supplying. 

Timeless Design to Complement History

A balance had to be struck between creating a modern hostel that would appeal to the Netizen target audience whilst at the same time avoiding simply being fashionable and fleeting. A new and fresh approach was needed but it had to also be authentic and respectful to the host building, its history and its details.

The iterative design process with its regular presentations and discussions with the investor (and operator) has resulted in a successful hostel that Netizen agree has achieved the flagship status they wanted.

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