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Hostel S.

Diana Paraschiv-Apetroaie

Medieval architecture is an invaluable resource of learning for contemporary architecture, as it speaks of the most natural way in which humans can live together in the city. They evolved organically at the same pace as the community that inhabits it which brang constant improvements and additions along time multiple generations. Medieval cities present multiple characteristics which are wishful in contemporary urban design, such as services at walkable distances, proper zoning and mix of functional fabric, streets in their original non-vehicle, pedestrian-centered existence, etc.

Can we build architecture that integrates properly with the medieval city, propagate and extend its qualities and at the same time provide a comfortable contemporary living? How can we create contemporary buildings with the same qualities as those cemented by time in medieval architecture?

The most naïve form of learning is imitation, but at the same time the most efficient. This is most valid in architecture, where a most profound understanding is achieved rather through reproduction of consacrated models. This string of successive repetitions of the model leads to innovation and discovery, but not in the superficial sense of the new, but rather as a discovery of the essential; each iteration further rinses the model and uncovers a deeper meaning which speaks not only of architecture, but of human existence.

Using this method, and through urban form and architectural scale, the project seeks to recover an inherent way of building and living inside the medieval city with an intervention in the historic center of Sibiu, Romania.
Reflecting the existing fragmentation of the medieval city, the plan presents itself apparently incoherent, but at a closer look it is revealed to be composed of a few archaic forms specific to the medieval city: the tower, the townhouses, the great hall, the gallery; all of which borrow from existing architectural forms which evocate the spirit of the city of Sibiu. The multiple volumes which compose the ensemble of the project form a continuous street limit, behind which hides the more private area of the garden. This interior courtyard is accessible only through considerate and perforations at the ground level which maximize utility while being almost unnoticeable from the street.

The ground level, as was always, is reserved for daily activities, some destined for interaction with a wider public - the street, while some are reserved for the more private community of the inhabitants. The interior spaces inherit the joviality and spontaneity of the city fabric: thick walls, exterior pathways, hidden stairs, and overhanging passageways – all meant to enrich a contemporary way of living.

While the tower is reserved for administrative affairs, the upper spaces are becoming increasingly private as one climbs any of the irregular stairs - up in the very tall and narrow attics of the roofs, light barely shines through the small dormer windows shaped like sleeping eyes, so particular to the city of Sibiu.

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