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How have youth hostels changed in recent years?

The architecture of the Swiss Youth Hostels changes over time and is constantly adapting to new requirements.

Founding period

The Fällanden Youth Hostel, which opened in 1937, is part of the first generation of youth hostels. These are characterized by mass camps, gender segregation and their location in the midst of nature. The work of architect Emil Roth is an important example of classic modern buildings in Switzerland. The SFST was able to keep the property in its original form to this day by adapting its operating concept and maintaining it continuously.

Functional modernism

The youth hostel in Zurich-Wollishofen opened in 1965. During construction, a lot of attention was paid to the new requirements of the booming international youth tourism. The youth hostel sets new standards in terms of lounges, room variety, gender segregation and consideration for operational requirements of a large business. After its opening, it was considered a model youth hostel around the world.

According to Bauhandbuch 2005

At Grindelwald Youth Hostel, as part of the renovation and extension of 1996, the Foundation implemented the guiding principles as defined in Bauhandbuch 2005 for the first time. A modern youth hostel was created, with a focus placed on comfort, privacy and the design of the common rooms and dormitories.

Sustainability standards

For Scuol Youth Hostel, the Foundation held an architectural competition among regional offices to ensure architectural quality. The SFST set new standards in terms of environmental compatibility: The building complies with the Minergie Eco Standard and features local and ecologically safe materials. It is heated with heat pumps and heat recovery systems as well as solar collectors. Close cooperation with the regional farmers association was established on the site of the former cattle market. The building emerged as the main winner of the Marketing + Architecture Award in 2010 and won the Hans E. Moppert Award for Sustainability in Alpine Tourism in 2008.

Youth Hostel Scuol

The new building in Scuol, opened in 2007, was the first new building of the Swiss Foundation for Social Tourism since 1987. The local archtitect team ARGE Sursass won the study contract for the new location in the Lower Engadine with a monolithic building.

wellnessHostel4000 Saas-Fee

The location of Saas-Fee on a high plateau at around 1800 meters above sea level, surrounded by four-thousand-meter peaks of the Mischabel mountain range, is unique. The wellnessHostel4000 has its own wellness and fitness facilities and is the first five-story wooden accommodation facility in Switzerland.

Public-private partnership

Opened in autumn 2014, wellnessHostel4000 in the Alpine destination of Saas-Fee is a public-private partnership between the SFST and the civic community of Saas-Fee: After years of searching, the Swiss Youth Hostels found a location for a new building and the civic community of Saas-Fee was able to convert the loss-making leisure centre into a professionally managed and operated wellness facility with indoor pool that benefits all guests of the destination as well as locals. The world’s first hostel with its own wellness area and indoor pool is born. As the first modern, five-storey wooden hotel building to be built in accordance with the Minergie Eco Standard and supplied with energy from solar district heating and photovoltaics, the building has also received several awards as a beacon for environmentally friendly construction in the Alps (Prix Lignum, Watt d’Or, Milestone).

Even more about the foundation

Want to read more about the foundation and its work? Read the interview with CEO René Dobler on our Overnight Blog now. René has been shaping architecture in tourism for 30 years and is a pioneer in sustainability.