I’ve always known art was an important aspect of life, but I never really connected it to the concept of sustainability. When visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, (and also the 2016 green capital of Europe), I had the opportunity to tour Celica Hostel with my study abroad program. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew beforehand was that it was originally a military prison that held Slovenes Yugoslavia’s development and downfall. I wasn’t exactly excited to go, but as soon as I walked through the custom, designed doors, I was absolutely amazed. IMG_4726The former prison was transformed into not only a youth hostel, but a veritable work of art. Each space serves a purpose, whether for function, aesthetic appeal, or historical evidence. This unconventional building not only functions as place for travelers to rest, but also as a museum, art gallery, concert hall, and indoor/outdoor café.IMG_4709The tour guide (and accomplished architect) Janko Rožic thoroughly described the significance of objects from the front door (which represents a map of the building’s footprint) to the courtyard where the prisoners walked and even the hostel bedrooms which possess their own unique style, each designed by different artists. IMG_4710Each guest room/cell is distinctly unique. I was especially fascinated by the building’s embrace of sustainable design and eco-efficiency. Materials which would have normally been discarded as waste have been given new lease on life. One example is the reclaimed wood that serves as bedroom furniture.FullSizeRenderSustainability can even be seen in the art gallery. Tea and fruit juice, two ingredients directly derived from nature, were utilized, resulting in a variety of beautiful works of artIMG_4698 (1)The design also illustrates the building’s history. The floor in the main hallway, located on the second level, was designed to be high towards doors on each side and dip down in the center. When exiting a room, a gravitational boost results, creating a light feeling and sense of relief. This represents how the prisoners felt when they left their tiny cells and, ultimately, when they were released from confinement: lighterHostel blogEven though the prison represented a dark time in Slovenian history its transformation did not sweep the gloom under the rug. Instead, a few reminders, such as barbed wire and barred windows were left intact. This experience emphasized how combining art, intelligent design, and history can create a successful business which positively impacts the lives of others. It inspires me to not negatively view tragedies of the past, but instead, transform negative events into something positive. This optimistic view can be applied to any adversity one may face.IMG_4707

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