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Owner of the cōmodo

Barbara Elwardt

Barbara Elwardt is a Berlin based architect and the owner of the cōmodo. Together with Professor Klaus Lattermann she founded the office Elwardt Lattermann Architekten in 1998, later changed to ioo, reflecting the firm's interdisciplinary approach. Barbara purchased the building where the cōmodo is now in 2019.

The cōmodo is your first foray into the hospitality business. Why now and why Bad Gastein?

I've always been fascinated by the hotel business. Over the years I came close to committing to various properties in Germany, but I never found the right one. The fact that it happened at this point in time was a coincidence. My family and I were guests in the neighboring hotel for many years and during our stays always wondered why this great building was sitting there dormant. When it was put up for sale, we applied.

Bad Gastein is very different from all the places I have known in the mountains. It is steeped in history, with very urban buildings both new and old. It has a train station connecting it to major transport hubs, a thundering waterfall in the middle of the town and it is situated at the end of a valley with no through traffic. The actual end of the valley is so picturesque that it completely leaves the city behind. The contradictions are fascinating.

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Comparisons have been drawn between Berlin in the 90s and the Bad Gastein of today. Aside from the empty buildings ripe for reinvention, what are the other similarities?

There is an atmosphere around the place, and I think it's mostly the people who give rise to this feeling. Here, too, it is the creative people who see the possibilities behind the crumbling facades. It was the same in Berlin after the fall of the Wall. Bad Gastein has so much to tap into - a long history, wonderful nature and everything modern creatives are looking for.

What elements of the design and architecture were you responsible for in the renovation of the building?

The architectural concept is primarily mine. When approaching a project such as this, I always think about buildings from the user's point of view. In the case of our hotel, I thought about how a guest might enter the building: where do they arrive, how do they get to their room, where are the facilities? For example, there are rooms for children to play in that are adjacent to the bar and lounge. As a mother of four, I always wanted to go on vacation with my children. But I was also happy when I could relax and they could be occupied accordingly. I think that is solved well with us today. The children's areas are so nice that parents also like to check on their children or read the newspaper there.

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What makes a good hotel experience for you?

I need to feel comfortable and, above all, have the opportunity to spend time outside my room. That's really the core of our concept. I can retreat or I can enjoy the community and meet other people.

What's the plan for future cōmodo hotels?

We have received a building permit for the next cōmodo hotel near Berlin. What happens after that is still open. It remains exciting.