Architect Cao Pu has transformed the second floor of a Beijing hotel into an unconventional hostel, by replacing rooms with festival-inspired tents.
Beginning with Woodstock and carrying into present day, with the likes of Coachella and Glastonbury, music festival culture has long inspired fashion. Architecture and design? Not so much.
Together Hostel in Beijing’s Fengtai District may be the first interior to take a page from the blueprint of outdoor, multi-day concerts. Occupying the second floor of an otherwise traditional hotel, the hostel has eschewed the typical dorm-style bunk beds in favour of tent-like sleeping quarters, organized around a large shared space, modelled after a concert main stage.
“The tent concept came from music festivals, where the stage is always the centre and everything else is around it, and people camp in the empty space,” says Cao Pu, the local architect and interior designer behind the project. “The core of this project was not to live-in, but to use the public space for more activities and for people to interact. We tried to bring the outdoor form indoors.”
To that end, Pu removed the interior walls in the 1,600-square-metre space, creating one vast room. This also helped distribute the natural daylight coming in from the west-facing windows – the only windows on the floor. All-white floors and walls do their part to keep the hostel feeling bright and airy.
“This project considers indoor space as an area rather than a series of closed rooms in the first place, and wishes to share the sunlight with as many corners as possible,” Pu says. “[We] integrated the whole second floor by tearing down walls and regrouping each kind of pipe system for its functions like an office, a cafe bar, a kitchen and a restroom, etc. That’s how we get an ‘indoor camping space.’”
At the centre of the floor is the large, timber-framed communal tent, containing a small kitchen and coffee bar, seating, and modular tables designed by Pu, which can be assembled individually or combined for a larger surface area and then stacked for easy storage.
The sleeping tents – 19 in total – are organized around the communal area, and more closely resemble tiny cabins. Each peaked-roof unit has a steel-and-wood frame, with a polycarbonate ceiling, sliding door and walls that provide privacy but let light permeate. Ceiling panels can be opened for air flow.
Organized in clusters, with some units stacked one atop another, all but two tents are single occupancy, and each contains only a bed and a reading light. Washroom and shower facilities are housed in identical structures.
To provide additional storage (some, but not all sleeping tents have an exterior alcove to stow luggage), Pu devised a wooden bleacher-style furniture unit that contains locker-style cabinets and doubles as another spot for guests to hang out.