Nineteenth century German prison converted into atmospheric Hotel Liberty
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Nineteenth century German prison converted into atmospheric Hotel Liberty

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A former prison in the city of Offenburg has been transformed into a hotel called Liberty following an extensive renovation.

Set just outside the city walls of the old town, close to the Black Forest and the French border, Hotel Liberty features 38 rooms and suites spread across two 19th century buildings, which have been connected by a new contemporary glass volume.

The prison was designed by German architect Heinrich Hübsch in 1840 and completed in 1845 using the same red sandstone seen in the cathedrals of Freiburg and Strasbourg.

Since its inception, the building has been through numerous fortifications and renovations but remained Offenburg’s main prison until its abandonment in 2009.

A three-year revamp began in 2014, with interior and product designers Knoblauch brought it to convert the complex into a hotel. The original stonework has been retained as a key part of the interior aesthetic – one of several references to the building’s history. Rooms are formed of connected former cells, the 1.2 metre-thick walls have been left intact and the old cell doors have been integrated into the contemporary layout.

Tiled bathrooms, black leather headboards and distressed brown leather sofas feature in many rooms and suites, while other retro-technological furnishings contrast with handcrafted pieces by Knoblauch and local craftspeople.

The building’s new glass box extension links the two components of the original structure and houses the hotel’s lounge, gallery, library and Wasser & Brot restaurant, run by Michelin-starred chef Jeremy Biasiol.

Historic jails and prisons have emerged as an unlikely source of inspiration for hospitality developers in recent years.

The newly opened Courthouse Hotel in Shoreditch, London, is located in a former court building and features a cocktail bar in the cells; and British studio Twelve Architects are converting Cornwall’s Bodmin Jail into a hotel, visitor attraction and teaching facility. Meanwhile, a former fortress and concentration camp on an island in Montenegro is set to be turned into a luxury resort and spa after a controversial planning proposal was accepted by the government.

Last month international architects OMA were selected by the Dutch government to transform a former prison into a cultural and civic space for Amsterdam.

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A former prison in the city of Offenburg has been transformed into a hotel called Liberty following an extensive renovation.
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