Architects: noa* network of architecture
- Area: 2000 m²
- Year: 2020
- City: Völs am Schlern
- Country: Italy
Text description provided by the architects. Its roots are underground, yet it boasts an amazing view: the hotel designed by noa* in Fiè allo Sciliar was extended by embedding it in the terrain, offering guests a spectacular view and the feeling of being emerged in nature.
Transform a traditional South Tyrolean restaurant into a larger hospitality space, without altering the charming, beautiful landscape with new levels. This was noa*'s goal with its project in Fiè, within the wonderful Dolomite scenery of the Sciliar and the Catinaccio.
The Gfell hotel, which is adjacent to the pre-existing Schönblick restaurant, sits alone just a stone's throw from the village of Fiè allo Sciliar, on top of a slope that provides views over unspoiled forests and meadows. The owner was aiming to coordinate this restoration project with top-quality accommodation, building new spaces able to enhance the distinctiveness of the location.
The Barn coming back to life. It is meaningful that access to the new spaces takes place through an old barn that sits by the restaurant. The outside of the building has preserved its traditional look thanks to careful restoration works, but the inside holds a surprise for visitors: it has been fully converted to host the hotel's reception, a lounge, and breakfast hall within one large open-space area.
It is an uncommon yet effective design solution from both an environmental and architectural point of view; on the one hand, it repurposes the existing level, deeply- rooted in the heritage and land of the local alpine community; and on the other hand, it breathes new life into a building that would otherwise be neglected or left to decay, transforming it into a place of discovery and surprise.
Inside, all the rooms take light from the large window overlooking the valley and they are structured seamlessly under the large wooden truss, which was partly rebuilt from scratch in line with local architectural tradition to restore all the feel of a typical South Tyrolean farmstead. Even the flooring, which makes an impression as a simple original cement screed, aims to reproduce the uneven surface area of the original barn (a specific treatment makes the surface waterproof and stain-resistant, however).
In the middle is a spectacular column fireplace reinterpreting the alpine hearth and creating a visual crux around which the different functional spaces revolve. Brise soleil-type wooden panels soften radiation from the sun during the hottest hours of the day, whilst creating aesthetic impact at the same time. Outside, the building opens out onto a large terrace that provides guests with a view over the valley.
The Hotel: hypogeal and sustainable. The new building is developed on two underground levels, which follow the land's natural slope. Its architecture is almost canceled out in order to allow for the natural scenery to be read with no interruptions. For noa*, hospitality is about (and in this project more so than ever) continuously seeking out dialogue with nature and providing the latter with the starring role.
There are 17 new rooms, complemented by a wellness area with a sauna and relaxation area. Going down a staircase from the barn, we enter the lower level which provides access to the new rooms; all of the rooms are the same on both levels (-1 and -2) and are amazing in terms of their features and size. On entering, a wooden entry-type hall (concealing the wardrobes) leads to a bright, open space (25 square metres). The model is that of the suite, with an open bathroom area (except for the toilet and bidet) designed with stone- effect tiles which break up the colour uniformity of the durmast wood chosen for the flooring in the room, whilst a white ceramic vessel sink revokes the traditional country basin in terms of its shape. All the furniture is custom designed in light and natural tones. But most importantly, in each room there is a huge glass window (measuring 4.8 metres in length) that coincides with the façade, showcasing a thrilling view. "There's nothing in front of us, only pine forests, pastures and mountains", notes the architect Profanter. The room is complemented by a terrace, featuring wooden flooring (on level -2 it directly borders the lawn) which provides more living space.
The wellness area, which is also on level -1, also shares the splendid view with the rooms, extending out onto wooden terraces where guests can sunbathe or simply relax in the warmer months. Inside, 6 cabins create fully wooden-cladded mini-rooms for individual use, allowing guests privacy and tranquillity whilst they lie down on a soft mattress that is submerged into the flooring. Custom-designed chaise lounges round off the decor. In the wellness area there is a Finnish- and bio-sauna (the latter with a lower temperature), which have a panoramic glass window.