Remodeling of the former “KdF – Seebad” Prora

Prora (Rügen), DE, 2009
Martin Hättasch (design team) with
Atelier Kempe Thill – Architects and Planners, Rotterdam, NL

The “Kraft durch Freude” Seaside Resort was erected in the 1930s as a component of Nazi propaganda. Used as a barracks after World War II, it is presently empty. The 4.5 kilometer ensemble is rather untypical of the architecture of the Third Reich. Only minimally influenced by Neoclassicism and “Heimat” or vernacular style, it breathes the spirit of modernism. As one of the very few “linear cities” actually realized, it is an important architectural monument. The facility was laid out according to plans by Clemens Klotz, and has for the most part been preserved. The facades and essential details, on the other hand, diverge from the original plans, and were in part executed only in the 1950s. The planned conversion of one of the blocks, each of which measures 500m in length, into a youth hostel poses the delicate question of how to deal with this historical heritage. Moreover, the much reduced budget compels an extremely economical approach if the project is to be realized at all. The proposed strategy adopts the intent of the original design as its point of departure and attempts to reinforce and to improve the character of the facility. The specific traits of the building, such as its enormous length and stoic window rhythm, are taken up mainly as landscape qualities. The strategy is not to strive for contrasts between old and new, but instead for their harmonization.

The entire building will be furnished with an external thermal insulation composite system. The façade is interpreted as a smooth skin, and the gently reflective windows are set flush into it. In contrast to the original design, the ground floor is activated via public functions and the façades open onto the landscape. The originally planned “solaria” – open loggias within the block - will be dismantled and restored in the spirit of the original design.

Because the building’s size is experienced within especially in the long corridors, these will be preserved and their spatial quality reinforced. All rooms are endowed with a special atmosphere through the attachment of prefabricated translucent plastic bathroom cubicles. The entire infrastructure of the new building is bundled inside of these. All shafts are positioned along the corridors and furnished within with luminaries that illuminate the hallways like large lanterns.

Text and images: Atelier Kempe Thill

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