The Youth Hostel Association is planning a £13.5m revamp of several of its properties throughout England and Wales, in an attempt to create an instantly recognisable brand.
The YHA has appointed London-based design consultancy Blacksheep to develop interior concepts for up to 37 properties, around five themes: city, coastal, country, activities and heritage.
As well as ensuring that travellers staying in YHA accommodation are made aware of the brand, the design must also reflect the individual character of each property, says YHA head of communications Duncan Simpson.
Blacksheep was appointed to the modernisation plans following its work on the YHA’s new £4.3m flagship London hostel which opens in Bolsover Street, London W1, this week. A further two new properties will open in Sussex in early 2009, while the first batch of 11 upgrades are now nearing completion. These range from very modern locations through to old mansion houses and converted mills.
‘We looked at part of the YHA’s mission statement,’ says Blacksheep senior designer Kylie Holton, ‘and have drawn out four things that we will apply – integrity, inclusivity, a useful element and a sense of value. There are different ways we can go about these things. There must be longevity in the design, with a natural look which can be reflected in the graphics. County schemes will be featured, such as moose heads made out of timber. We are looking towards a kind of “budget chic”.’
The Bolsover hostel, with an exterior by architect TP Bennett, is based on the city theme and aims to encourage interaction through design.
‘We have installed a map of the Tube in the central area with seating around that, while bringing in elements of fun colour to make it fresh and contemporary,’ says Holton.
YHA PROPERTY PORTFOLIO
• The refurbishment projects were identified by a survey of the 161 properties operated directly by the Youth Hostel Association out of its network of 208 youth hostels
• Of the initial 37 modernisation schemes, major projects approved include a £2m revamp at YHA Ilam in the Peak District, £1m spent at YHA Bristol and almost another £1m at YHA Pen y Pass in Snowdonia
• Three sites will close at the end of the year, where the required investment would not be recouped: YHA Bangor in north Wales, YHA Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and YHA Slimbridge in Gloucestershire