Generator Hostel, Berlin - Mitte Story by WAF Architekten Generator Hostel, Berlin - Mitte Generator Berlin Mitte Story by DesignAgency Generator Berlin Mitte

Generator Berlin Mitte

DesignAgency as Interior Architects

Generator urban design hostels

In the competitive market of design hostels, Generator sets itself apart as the only design hostel with multiple locations. Under the vision and direction of Director of Hospitality and Leisure, Josh Wyatt of Patron Capital, (Generator’s parent company) Generators are now across Europe with a plan to go global. Generator offers cool, stylish and affordable accommodations. Their overall creative direction and design language has been crafted by DesignAgency, led by partner and Generator’s Creative Director, Anwar Mekhayech. Each location has its own unique style that reflects the local spirit and culture of its host city, while also maintaining a common aesthetic, and an emphasis on bold and exciting social spaces.


Generator Berlin Mitte is the newest location in Generator’s quickly expanding chain of distinctive and eclectic urban design hostels. Within walking distance of the lively Hackescher Markt, Alexanderplatz, Museum Island, and iconic Kunsthaus Tacheles, Generator Mitte transforms two 19th century office buildings with the artistic character of Berlin’s streetscapes and the variety of experiences they offer. Emphasizing the brand’s collaborative spirit, Ester Bruzkus, from Ester Bruzkus Architects, was invited to lead the design team. Working together, Bruzkus, Mark Asipowicz from WAF Architects and Generator’s design lead, Anwar Mekhayech, with his Toronto based DesignAgency, infused the project with a dynamic character.

Guests enter through Generator’s historic courtyard, past Bella Leonard’s wire embroidered stainless steel ‘G’ sculpture, and are welcomed into Generator’s vibrant communal spaces, including a social café and canteen, a chill-out library, a bar and a cool, subterranean, skylit gallery and event space. According to Ester Bruzkus, “We wanted to immerse travellers in the unique character of Berlin, a city of incredible contrasts. So we came up with a design that transforms the interior into an unpredictable experience through layers of art, materials and textures.” The café and reception are organized by a layer of wood boards punctured by a horizontal line of wooden pegs for both function and display, predictability and playfulness. The wood walls merge with seating platforms from which to see and be seen. Denim, neon pink and orange upholstered cubes provide flexible seating and inject liveliness. The white walls above the pristine Corian café counter serve as a backdrop for French artist Sebastian Preschoux’s whimsical and geometric string drawings that hang from the snaking exposed pipes and electrical conduits. Preschoux’s surprisingly decorative optical abstraction transports visitors from the outside world.

The canteen and adjacent library impart the themes of sociability and flexibility that are of primary importance to Generator. British artist Luke Embden’s mural wraps the canteen with his colourful caricature of Berlin, drawn in response to an artist residency at Generator. A collection of local “off-the-shelf” materials are juxtaposed to create the feeling of a busy, ad-hoc ‘eat-in-kitchen’. The cozy couches in the adjacent library create the perfect setting for travellers to chill out and share stories from their adventures. The theatrically dark bar, lined with black walls and raw copper panels and playfully lit with recycled fire extinguisher tubes by Castor and car headlights by PSLAB, creates a dramatic stage set for illusion and fantasy. In an intimate nook at the far end, plush brown leather sofas rest in front of thick purple wool drapery.

In the dramatic & spacious corridors, famed Berlin street artist Theirry Noir created three-metre high faces, colour coded for each floor, reminiscent of his poetic murals on the Berlin wall. These lead to a wide selection of room options that carry through design themes from the social areas reinterpreted in a basic and quiet manner. In addition to dorms, there are twins—all with en suite bathroom facilities. “Generator style is contemporary, unpretentious and at the same time somewhat elusive.” explained Anwar Mekhayech. “It’s both fun and functional. Berlin Mitte was an especially exciting location because we focused on talented guests to infuse the interior with surprising details and authentic objects that delight with Berlin’s spirit, while ensuring that everything is super practical and functional.”

Generator Hostel, Berlin - Mitte

WAF Architekten as Architects

Generator Hostels is a rapidly expanding brand of design-led hostels in great locations. Company philosophy is to find cool talented local architects who can infuse each project with a feel specific to the city making each hostel truly individual.

WAF Architekten were chosen to lead the design from inception in 2010 to completion in 2013. They were responsible for the conversion of the existing building, the interiors of the guest rooms and upper floors, the administrative areas, and unusually even the design of the wallpaper in the corridors. The existing 9-storey office building complex was bought. It consisted of an exciting historic part to the back of the site, built in the 1900s as an industrial warehouse and a newer 1990s part to the street. There was also a ramp to underground parking for 30 cars. The building was listed.

The client brief was to provide a mix of twin, 4-, 6- and 8-bed guest rooms each with its own ensuite bathroom on the upper floors (1st to 5th floors), communal areas on the ground floor (reception, café, bar, breakfast room), administrative offices on the ground floor and service areas in the basement. The building was completely stripped back to the concrete structure. Only the staircases and facades remained largely untouched. The ramp to the underground parking area was demolished to make more space available for a bar on the ground floor. To get vehicles to the basement service and storage areas, and the disabled parking spaces, a car lift was installed.

Project architect, Mark Asipowicz says “the client wanted tough and robust interiors. We chose to use industrial materials and finishes, which are not normally associated with hotels or hostels, and this is what gives the place a young edgy feel. Concrete ceilings, which were discovered during the course of demolition, were left exposed in the rooms and corridors. In the bathrooms we used swimming pool tiles for the walls and commercial kitchen tiles for the floors.” Even the colour scheme was inspired by the greyness of old industrial buildings: Neutral background greys colours are used for the floors, walls and ceilings, but there is always a “feature wall” with a splash of colour. The flashes of colour in the hallways and rooms help orientation in the building but more importantly create dramatic interiors making even the corridors memorable spaces.

The zigzag walls in the hallways came about as a solution to a technical problem (the location of vertical services) but add a dynamic to the experience of walking down the corridor. “The great thing about designing hotels and hostels” says Mark Asipowicz” is that you dare to do things which you wouldn’t otherwise do, simply because the guests are only there for a relatively short time. It invites you to be more extreme.” Guest bathrooms are designed as wet rooms to maximise use of available space. To remove visual clutter, as much as possible was recessed into the walls – niches for shampoo bottles, recessed shower taps, etc.

Mark Asipowicz says “Too many budget hotel bathrooms are really uncomfortable to use for tall people like me. Often shower trays are tiny and closed in with screens. We went for a wet room solution; an open shower area with a large tray. There was a whole lot more detailing involved, but the result has a generous feel to it even though the space is quite small. Also there are no projecting shelves or taps to bump your elbow on!” A Generator Hostel trade mark is “super graphics”- large scale wall graphics. WAF Architects decided to be pro-active and involve local street artist, Thierry Noir, known as one of the first artists to paint on the Berlin Wall.

Berlin is characterised by its past as a Western island surrounded by the Wall from the East Block. The special character of the city which resulted, with its alternative and underground culture, is one of the reasons that tourists come to Berlin now. What better ways of expressing this, than using Thierry Noir’s Berlin Wall art work in the hostel? WAF obtained permission from Thierry Noir to use his famous “heads” motif and designed unique wallpaper for hallways. A one-off run of 400 sq m wallpaper was printed. The design is so that no two heads are the same, and that the prevailing colours reflect the orientation colours of the different floors.

Thierry was also commissioned to paint a basement wall with original art work – again his heads but this time in black and white. Common to all Generator hostels is the “funky G” logo – which the architects had lasered onto the tap heads in the bathrooms, and the oversized room numbers on the doors. These numbers were integrated in the laminate, in a special print process, so that no damage is possible.

The ground floor offices re-use the old office lights from the previous use of the building – a good example of recycling.

Generator Hostel Berlin-Mitte

Ester Bruzkus Architects as Interior Architects

Ester Bruzkus was invited to do the interior design of the public spaces for Generator Urban Design Hotels’ new location in Berlin-Mitte. Here, continuing the idea that each hostel’s design be locally orientated, she has created a place that allows guests to immerse themselves into Berlin’s unique but contradictory character.

An exciting blend of art works, materialities and surfaces invests the common areas of the hostel with a unique style. Recycled timber panelling frames the reception area and the café, interrupted by a horizontal line of seemingly countless hooks, and complemented by bright cushions and cubes in denim, neon pink and orange.

In the café, a white wall serves as a backdrop for an installation by French artist Sebastian Preschoux, while impressions of Berlin by British Artist Luke Embden enliven the walls of the more minimalist canteen. In the adjoining library, comfortable leather sofas create a perfect setting for a restful break. The dark bar boasts black walls and raw copper panelling, while PSLAB’s powerful lighting concept creates a world of its own while still fitting into the overall Generator concept.

Along the walls of spacious corridors the city’s history is revisited with three meter high abstract faces by Berlin street artist Thierry Noir, reminders of his well-known Berlin Wall paintings. Ester Bruzkus extended her design for the public spaces further in the hostel’s twin bedrooms. She shows how to use simple materials in a playful way: black and white diamond tiles give the bathrooms a distinctive and unexpected character.

Overall the project is a successful composition which impresses both guests and others – the Generator Hostel in Berlin was awarded the 2013 World Interior News Award for the best hotel interior and the Iconic Award 2014, is nominated for the German Design Award 2014, as well as being published in leading blogs and magazines worldwide.

Generator Urban Design Hostels Generator is an exception in the highly competitive Design-Hostels market, being the only design hostel with a number of locations. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Josh Wyatt, Director of Hospitality and Leisure at Patron Capital (Generator’s parent company), Generator is now present throughout Europe. Worldwide distribution is planned for the future. Generator offers cool, stylish and affordable accommodation. The creative concept and design of this chain of hostels was developed by the DesignAgency, led by Anwar Mekhayech, Generator’s Creative Director and Partner. Each location has its own style that reflects the local atmosphere and culture of the host city. In each case, the emphasis on a collective aesthetic and on bold and exciting social spaces is maintained.

English translation by Sarah Rivière

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