Monday, March 22, 2010

Million Donkey Hotel

Million Donkey Hotel in Prata Sannita, Italy by feld72

Photographs are by Hertha Hurnaus.

Prata Sannita is a small town (under 2,000 residents) north of Naples that is plit into the Prata Inferiore (medievel) and Prata Superiore (modern). The former is situated on a hillside and has lost population to the latter with its flexible grid. This place is the rest of Italy and Europe in miniature, an exodus of residents from small towns with local economies to urban areas tied into the global economy. In response to this situation a group of international artists were invited to the area to create proejcts with the participation of townspeople.

Austrian architects and "urban strategists" feld72 created the Million Donkey Hotel, a minimal reconfiguration of a house abandoned by a local in a quest for fortune in the city. The architects moved to Prata Inferiore to build the hotel with residents, so the latter could convert other abandoned houses in a similar manner. Ironically the hotel's potential guests will be the city dwellers looking for respite and a taste of the medievel in their vacations days from global service jobs. Regardless the means of intervention means that guests will not mistake the Million Donkey for the W.

The hotel rooms recall Matera, Italy's Sassi dwellings, cave-like houses built into the the rock hillside. Here the feeling is certainly cave-like, with the furniture another transient resident inside the rock walls. Guests walk outside for a trip to Il Bagno, where miles of anti-mosquito string define the different zones within the bathroom. With this in mind it's no surprise that the whole project was completed within a 10,000-euro budget, but it's commendable nevertheless.

Million Donkey's most striking element is Il Letto Volante, the Wheel Bed, a room where the guest has the option of sleeping indoors or outside under the stars. The bed rests on a track that extends from the far wall to a cantilevered cage with an amazing view down the hill. The vertigo-inducing balcony is the hotel's only overt expression, both of its architecture and its presence. If feld72's aspirations for expansion by residents comes true, a whole series of lookouts may be on the horizon, symbols of locals determined to make the best of their situation instead of leaving for supposedly greener pastures.