Constructor: Caritas Erzdiözese Wien
Architects: ALLESWIRDGUT ARCHITEKTUR ZT GMBH WIEN
Adress: Laufbergergasse 12, 1020 Vienna, Austria
Photos: © AllesWirdGut Architektur/Guilherme Silva Da Rosa
Over 13 million tourists are drawn to Vienna every year. The choice of B&Bs and hotels is just as large – from simple 1* accommodation to a posh 5* house – there is something for everyone. Of all of them, Magdas Hotel is something quite unique – for spending the night or just for the experience. Nowadays, retirement home doesn’t just house a fresh hotel, but also a teaching programme for young refugees, who make their first steps in the hospitality industry here. Caritas Austria is responsible for this. Russian, Persian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, English or Arabic – which hotel in the world is already able to come up with such a variety of languages among its staff? The current 20 young asylum seekers come from 16 different nations and are being taught by experienced hotel and gastronomy professionals. For a further 25 minor refugees, the hotel offers temporary accommodation, whilst at the same time being a potential place in which to do an apprenticeship.
Caritas is therefore treading new paths: "Magdas Hotel considers itself a social business", explains Hotel Manager Sebastiaan de Vos. "In other words, it provides the solution to social and economic problems whilst focusing on economic means – not the maximisation of profit." The refreshingly unconventional architecture budget, for which Viennese firm AllesWirdGut Architektur is responsible, also acts on this principle. With as few financial resources as possible, the former retirement home in 1960s chic should be turned into a competitively attractive hotel. 1.5 million euros have been invested. A further 57,000 euros were accrued due to crowd funding: employees, neighbours, Facebook friends and students from the nearby School of Fine Arts helped to tidy up, renovate and reorganise the building – and numerous companies supported the project too. Instead of a rigorous complete modernisation, it gave the building a loving appearance – both inside and out. Nowadays, the former dining room on the ground floor is a foyer and lobby for guests, a bar and restaurant for visitors and a living room for the young refugees, who occupy two self-contained shared accommodation units in the hotel.
In total, Magdas Hotel provides 78 rooms over three floors in five different categories, and yet each room will surprise you with its individual charm, because everyone involved was asked to find creative solutions not just to the funding, but also in the design. "We often had to improvise and work with what we had", explained Herwig Spiegel, General Planner at AllesWirdGut Architektur. "For example, we used furniture from Caritas’ stocks and hotel liquidations, as well as private donations and other findings. Our design concept is based on simplicity and elegance, discreetly matching colours and vintage chic. Virtually every item is hand-picked."
What’s available therefore goes hand in hand with what’s been found, and is mixed and reinterpreted: Old plywood cupboards were turned into stylish desks. Sawn chairs grow out of the wall and serve as bedside tables. The "wall trophies" in what’s known as the hunting room turn out to be a wardrobe made from old bicycle saddles and handlebars. Discarded train baggage racks form shelves, colourfully painted walls are combined with new carpets and curtains. Beds, mattresses and bedding are of course new, as are the showers and toilets. Walls, fabrics and the flooring are harmoniously tailored to one another and give each room an appropriate setting.
In the apartments and suites, the architects opted for light grey DLW Linoleum. 500 m2 of the plain-coloured flooring from DLW Flooring’s Uni Walton series was laid in Magdas Hotel. The shade warm concrete grey integrates harmoniously into the room concept and prepares an appropriate stage for the distinctive and unusual interior. However, linoleum isn’t just visually satisfying: This environmentally friendly flooring is still made out of natural and predominantly renewable raw materials such as linseed oil, natural resins, sawdust, cork and jute. DLW Linoleum is free from harmful emissions and has an excellent CO2 balance – thereby making it ideal for a healthy indoor climate, as affirmed by various eco labels such as the "Blue Angel". Last but not least, the natural flooring also scores well in a functional respect. Even in a hotel, linoleum’s resistance to wear and tear is hugely important, as is its long life, quick and uncomplicated cleaning and excellent hygienic qualities. Linoleum can be laid with sealed joints and naturally already has antibacterial properties. What’s more, it is warm underfoot, slip-resistant and is therefore particularly pleasant to walk on.