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Winner of the Design and Architecture competition organised by the Lower Saxony Tourism Ministry and iF International Forum Design: “Welcoming guests – driving tourism in Lower Saxony through design”.

The Seesteg — architecture

The original historic building was constructed in 1893 to serve as a storehouse for the wooden boards of the pier. In December 2006 the building was bought by brothers Marc Brune, an architect, and Jens Brune, a hotelier. Within a year it had been transformed into an elegant hotel. The authentic exterior reflects the austere history and character of life on the island – which was why the brothers chose to preserve the basic structure of the building even though it was not officially listed for conservation.

The walls were saturated with salt from their direct exposure to the elements and had become porous. Hand-made coal-fired bricks of a type available from only two remaining brickworks in Europe were used to clad the old walls inside and out. The storehouse structure had a discreet penthouse added in a modern oak and bronze mullion and transom design with a frameless balcony parapet that forms a deliberate contrast with the architectural language of the older building. The existing wooden planks from the storehouse, which had formed the floors on which the basket beach chairs were latterly stored, were used in the historic part of the building as cladding for the public areas and rooms.

Viewed from the sea, the hotel looks like a long horizontal strip. Inside, the 50-metre long old building has been used as the central axis for the ground floor and upper floor with its 25-metre roof-top pool. The ground floor access between the lounge and restaurant to the loft suites offers particularly impressive sightlines. The chimney stack indicates the end of the main building.

The interior is a perfect symbiosis of practicality and elegance. Sandstone tiled floors and glass walls contrast with the warmth of wood and sensuality of linen and silk. Like the ebb and flow of the tides, rustic brick alternates with luxurious silks, and the woodwork contrasts light and dark oak. Throughout the entire building, wooden planks have been laid as flooring in naturally-occurring breadths and lengths up to 2.5 metres. Massive panorama windows, usually from floor to ceiling, give a feeling of hovering above the waves. Even the interior bathrooms have a direct view of the sea.

Thus a historic building from a past era has been transformed into an unusual 16-bedroom hotel offering a haven of peace and relaxation to modern guests with their sophisticated tastes.