Million Donkey Hotel: Medieval Ruins Repurposed as Unique Lodgings

million-donkey-hotel (Image: feld72reproduced with permission)

Set in the side of a castle-topped hill, The Million Donkey Hotel is the puzzling name given to a collection of re-purposed structures in the older part of Prata Sannita, Italy. This backpackers’ lodging space was created with the support of feld72. The architects involved were invited to live locally in the month of August 2005 and work with the community using the region’s materials to promote the rural economy.

million-donkey-hotel-2 (Images: feld72reproduced with permission)

feld72 is a group of five architects whose projects experiment with the social aspects of certain spaces. Their ventures include an opera house within a rundown subway station, organizing a form of hitchhiking taxi system and creating a communications network on a highway using water-pistols, balloons and envelopes.

million-donkey-hotel-3 (Images: feld72reproduced with permission)

The Million Donkey Hotel design brief was to use abandoned buildings to bring together the younger and senior members of the community in a bid to protect Prata Inferiore’s cultural heritage as a medieval town. The artists and ‘local heroes’ worked together to create a useful location out of an area considered old and unimportant as a result of nearby urban expansion.

million-donkey-hotel-4 (Images: feld72reproduced with permission)

The development of the Million Donkey Hotel was largely organic, where common sense replaced planning permission and due care and attention negated the need for hard hats. It was created in one month by around 40 volunteers from the area, doing what they could with the resources that were available to them.

million-donkey-hotel-5 (Images: feld72reproduced with permission)

The budget of 10,000 Euros ensured that a bathroom and sleeping areas were installed to provide the bare essentials. Many rooms were left to be used flexibly, given intriguing names like the Silverspace and the Black Hole. And when the ‘hotel’ isn’t fully booked, locals can congregate in its various nooks and crannies.

million-donkey-hotel-6 (Images: feld72reproduced with permission)

In 2006, a return visit was made by the artists to help build more social spaces, including a mini amphitheatre-style house. Another highlight of the Million Donkey Hotel is a bed which can be rolled out into a cage suspended from the main wall.

Explore more great examples of adaptive reuse here.

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